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Woman Told To Stop Writing Letter In Arabic On Plane Because It’s ‘Scaring’ Person Next To Her

Suhyeon Choi/Unsplash

Not everyone loves traveling by airplane.

Indeed, some people find air travel to be among the more stressful, anxiety inducing modes of travel.

Some have phobias of air travel due to the, highly unlikely, possibility that something might go wrong with their plane, leading it to crash.

Other’s fears might stem from the sadly uncertain times we are living in.

Redditor throwawayafraid22 found herself being unfairly judged on a recent flight by the passenger in the next seat, all owing to her ethnicity.

Concerned that she may not have handled the situation as well as she could have, the original poster (OP), took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where she asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA for telling the woman sitting near me on the plane to f*ck off because she was afraid of my Arabic?”

The OP shared it was the contents of a letter she was writing which stoked fear in her next-seat neighbor.

“I was taking the plane to Dubai to visit my recently-recovered father whom I was writing a letter for, with a gift.”

“So anyway, I was writing in Arabic and this was freaking the woman sitting near me out because she thought I was planning something bad.”

“All that I did was just write the beginning, ‘-أبي هذه هدية مني اليك ويج’, that’s all and that made her ask me to stop writing because it was scaring her.”

“I asked her why, and she answered that she doesn’t understand what I’m writing and she has anxiety.”

“She tried to convince me to write in English, I refused because I prefer Arabic but I told her that I’m going to write in a way she doesn’t see that.”

At first, the OP thought that her letter was no longer an issue, until things unexpectedly escalated.

“She was fine with it for a while until she started freaking out again because she still doesn’t understand what I’m writing and she asked me to change my seat.”

“At this point, I completely ignored her which made her double down on it and I told her to f*ck off.”

“Fortunately, we were about to land and everybody noticed what was happening and tried to calm her down as she was crying.”

“Some people said that I shouldn’t write in a language many people do not understand because it can trigger their anxieties, and I really do not know why that’s my problem though.”


“I have to clarify that “some people” weren’t a lot , like the wording might have suggested.”

“It was only like 2 or 3 people telling me that and I think now it was maybe coming from a place to de-escalate the situation more than anything else to be honest.”

Fellow Redditors weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring.

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

The Reddit community firmly agreed that the OP was in no way the a**hole for writing a letter to her father in her native language.

Just about everyone agreed that the woman’s fear over seeing a letter in Arabic on a plane to Dubai was ridiculous and came from a closed minded, if not flat out bigoted place.


“How they heck was she going to manage in Dubia?”

“It’s definitely not English she will be hearing most of the time.”-Peasplease25.


“First, whatever you’re writing is none of her business and hence it doesn’t matter if she can read it.”

“Second, let’s be honest about why she was worried.”

“She saw Arabic writing and associated that with terrorists who target airplanes—which to be clear, is racist and ridiculous.”

“I strongly suspect that were you writing in French, Korean, or Cree, she would not have had that issue.”

“She is the one with the problem, the one who needs to get over her racism.”-Cohomology-is-fun.

“So she was on a plane headed to Dubai of all places.”

“And seeing Arabic writing gives her anxiety?”

“This is both hilarious and absurd.”

“NTA.”- NmlsFool.


‘She’s on for a big surprise when she gets off the plane in an Arab country, where there will be tons of people speaking and writing in Arabic.”

“Her triggers are hers to manage and not yours.”

“You were writing a letter which is none of her business to begin with.”

“Her racist/anti-Arab fears shouldn’t place the burden on you to placate her fears.”- ollyator.

“NTA, she was racist.”-Abrenn56.


“WHAT IN THE ACTUAL F*CK.”-Elegant-Reason2689.

“She will have a lot of fun in Dubai!”- Kind-Kaleidoscope358.

“NTA – all together now: ‘we don’t give in to racists’.”- Valuable_Ad_742.

“NTA – why is she even looking at what someone else is writing, that’s insane!”- that-guy-blimey.


“You’re on a plane to Dubai, and this woman is upset that someone is writing Arabic?”

The official language of Dubai?”

“Good luck to her when she realizes that everyone around her will be speaking Arabic.”-Jenmarvan.

“First of all, why does she need to understand what you are writing, for someone else.”

“That’s it.”

“There is no need for a second of all.”

“You are obviously NTA.”-Strong-Extension-976.


“You write in whatever language you want to write.”

“Nosey Nelly needs to mind her own business.”-stickaforkinmeplz.


“This is just racism.”

“Should you allow casual racism?”

“I’m going to go with a big fat NO.”

“You should’ve told her she writes in Arabic all the time, it’s just numbers rather than letters, so why can’t you? “

“Watch her head explode.”

“You don’t have to make allowances for ignorance and prejudice.”- mynamecouldbesam.

“NTA she is on a plane to an Arabic speaking country and she is afraid of the language?”

“Purely racism.”

“\Hope she has fun in Dubai and doesn’t break down in the middle of a mall when she hears people speaking Arabic.”- jupiterplum.


“I’m German but I’m sure she would’ve been fine with me writing that, because it’s the same letters as English.”

“What a stupid and disrespectful thing to ask.”- lila-luna.

“She’s on a plane to Dubai, what does she think signs will be written in.”- Unggue_Pot.


“If she’s anxious it’s cuz of her own bigoted thoughts.”- JCBashBash.

“She’s TA for trying to read your letter anyway.”

“Damn! “

“Soooo NTA.”- RideThatBridge.

“So by that logic, can you then also not speak in a language many people don’t understand?”

“Also who are these many people’?”

“If you’re on a flight to Dubai, probably quite a few passengers can understand it just fine.”

“If you get on an international flight, you should be comfortable coming in contact with some other cultures.”

“If you’re not, stay at home under your rock.”

“NTA.”- thumpmyponcho.

“NTA, she was being racist.”

“Nothing wrong with your actions.”-Miserable_Airport_66.


“What an obnoxious and racist demand to make of a stranger!”- RobinChirps.


“Why on earth would she think is OK to ask this?”

“And what did she expect on a plane from Dubai?”-PinWest4210.


“Can’t imagine what her reaction will be when she lands since she’s on a flight to Dubai.”-soapybsuds.


“What a load of bull. “

“Why is it anyone’s business to read your private messages anyway? “

“Their anxiety is not your problem.”

“Ignore them all.”-ninja-gecko.


“Why is she going to Dubai if she’s afraid of people who speak and write in Arabic?”

“What a delight.”-xakeridi.


“That’s just racism at its finest.”

“And one of the reasons with actual mental health issues get a bad rap.”

“Anxiety issues is not a reason to attack someone’s native language, on the way to their country.”

“Next time, tell her English gives you anxiety so could she please shut up.”-WriteUrOwnEnding.

“NTA and WTF is she doing reading your stuff anyways?”-RDT64.


“F*ck her and all the racists who comforted her.”- LostSailor-25.

“NTA – That lady was super racist and no one should be reading what you’re writing anyway.”-calyxium.


“It was dirty of that lady to turn the whole crowd against you with her crocodile tears.”

“She knows exactly what she’s doing.”

“Sorry lady, but you can’t convince us that you’re afraid when you’re literally boarded on a Dubai-bound flight.”

“A lady like that does not deserve an ounce of your respect.”

“There is so much wrong with that lady’s action.”

“Why was she peeking at your writing?”

“That’s invading your privacy.”

“Even if she was sitting next to you, the polite thing she could’ve done is to avert her eyes.”

“Why did this lady feel the need to make it her business when the writing had nothing to do with her?”

“The writing doesn’t concern her so she doesn’t need to know what you’re writing about.”

“It’s none of her business.”

“The writing is your own private matter and she needs to respect that.”

“She claims she’s afraid of Arabic and yet she on a plane that’s headed to an Arabic country?”

“The fact that she made the choice to board a plane that is headed to an Arabic speaking country tells you a lot about her true nature.”

“She made the conscious choice to put herself in an environment where she would be exposed to Arabic writing, yet she still expects Arabic speakers to cater to her xenophobic needs.”

“Her actions screams of entitlement.”- MochiandGreenTea.

Touched by the supportive responses from her fellow Redditos, the OP took a moment to thank them, as well as give an update on her father.

“Thanks to everybody who sent such beautiful and encouraging comments and messages.”

“Don’t worry, my father is doing fine and he loved what I got him.”

“It deeply saddens me to see people like this in 2022 too, and I wish I wasn’t in that situation but I guess it is what it is.”

“I shouldn’t let a racist ignorant moron ruin my life for me.”

“Thanks, again.”

“I wish you the best of luck, all of you.”

It is indeed quite sad that that woman rushed to such an outrageous assumption simply by seeing Arabic characters.

It’s even sadder that the OP had, and likely will still have to, put up with such ignorant behavior.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.