Flyers police flight themselves – won’t fly with Asian pair

(via boingboing)

Air travel and terrorism issue. Skip to the next article if you no longer care.

It seems a number of British potential travellers on a recent flight scheduled to leave Costa del Sol for Manchester. Their reasoning was a pair of Asian men who were wearing leather coats in warm weather and speaking what was believed to be an Arabic language. I won’t make a judgement on this as to right or wrong, because we don’t know enough about what happened. I do doubt this would have happened were it not for the recent arrest of suspected terrorist flying from the UK to the US.

British holidaymakers staged an unprecedented mutiny – refusing to allow their flight to take off until two men they feared were terrorists were forcibly removed.

. . .

The extraordinary scenes happened after some of the 150 passengers on a Malaga-Manchester flight overheard two men of Asian appearance apparently talking Arabic.

Passengers told cabin crew they feared for their safety and demanded police action. Some stormed off the Monarch Airlines Airbus A320 minutes before it was due to leave the Costa del Sol at 3am. Others waiting for Flight ZB 613 in the departure lounge refused to board it.

. . .

It also raised fears that more travellers will take the law into their own hands – effectively conducting their own ‘passenger profiles’.

I worry that this is true. With governments telling their country’s citizens to fear terrorists and watch out for suspicious individuals, I think we’ll see a lot more cases of people with no training or clue in identifying legitimate threats deciding that a foreign language is grounds for suspicion. This is a tough time for everyone – government and citizen. I don’t know how this will all wash out. There will be a lot of innocent people incorrectly targetted though, and no one will be better off for that happening.

Ultimately, the men were escorted off the plane. They did not resist. No further information is available from what I’ve read so far.  One final comment from the article that echoes something I’ve said repeatedly:

Patrick Mercer, the Tory Homeland Security spokesman, said last night: “This is a victory for terrorists. These people on the flight have been terrorised into behaving irrationally.

[tags]People less tolerant due to terrorism threat, Flight grounded when passengers suspect Asian travellers[/tags]