Wearing a Coat Doesn't Make You a Terrorist
ANGER OVER PLANE BAN MUSLIMS
By Stewart Maclean | 21 August 2006
MUSLIM leaders yesterday blasted British passengers who staged a mutiny on a holiday jet after accusing two innocent Asian men of being terrorists.
The packed flight from Malaga to Manchester was delayed more than three hours after worried trippers stormed off and refused to fly until the British-born Muslims were removed.
The pair - later cleared by police - aroused suspicions by speaking Arabic and wearing heavy overcoats in the Mediterranean heat.
But yesterday angry Muslim elders slammed airline chiefs for over-reacting. Muslim Association of Britain spokesman Ismail Farhat said: "Wearing a coat in summer doesn't make someone a terrorist. It's absolutely disgraceful.
"These two innocent young men were treated like terrorists for no reason. It's just racist prejudice."
The drama unfolded last Wednesday on the 3am Monarch flight from Malaga. Several passengers, many with young families, refused to board after spotting the two Asian men in coats and jumpers in the departure lounge.
And more stormed off the Airbus 320 shortly before take-off when word spread that they had been overheard talking in Arabic. The men - in their 20s - were then escorted off flight ZB613 by armed Spanish airport police and quizzed before later being cleared to return to Britain.
The packed holiday jet, with 150 passengers and seven crew, was emptied and searched.
Passengers later defended their actions and said the pair had also continually checked their watches before boarding.
College lecturer Jo Schofield, 38, said: "People had been talking about them. They looked dodgy." Husband Heath, 40, added: "Some passengers were panicky and in tears. There was a lot of talk about terrorism."
Muslim Council of Britain boss Muhammad Abdul Bari said last night: "While it is sensible for all of us to be vigilant, it is not sensible to pick on Muslims simply because they happen to dress differently or appear to be speaking to each other in Arabic."
A Monarch spokesman said: "The captain was concerned about the security surrounding the two gentlemen and the decision was taken to remove them for further security checks."
ARE you one of the men thrown off the flight, or did you see it happen? Call our newsdesk on 020 7293 3831.
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