Penn Professor Profiled As Potential Terrorist: For Doing Math
Photo courtesy of Thinkstock
In yet another case of "see something, say something" gone awry, a woman on an American Airlines regional jet traveling from Philadelphia to Syracuse on Thursday passed a note to a flight attendant expressing concern that her seatmate was a terrorist writing on a notepad in a language she did not understand.
Clearly, she either never took or forgot all about high school algebra.
The man was a tenured University of Pennsylvania economics professor whose "unknown language" that the woman thught was Arabic was nothing more than algebraic formulas he was working on.
The incident ended up delaying a 41-minute flight more than 90 minutes on the ground before finally taking off, according to the Washington Post.
Prof. Guido Menzio, a native of Turin, Italy, was headed to speak at a prestigious conference in Ontario, Canada, when his origin flight from Philadelphia was delayed. Apparently, his seatmate, a woman who tried to strike up a conversation with him, saw his doodlings, saw him and mistook him for Arabic instead of Italian, and slipped a note to a flight attendant saying she was sick.
When she was asked to come forward, she told the flight attendant her real concern was Menzio. The woman, who remains unidentified, never re-boarded the plane, operated by Air Wisconsin. The flight attendants alerted security.
Within minutes, Menzio wrote in a now-deleted Facebook post, he himself was asked by the pilot to step out of the plane for a moment.
“There I was met by some FBI looking man-in-black,” Menzio wrote.
He was briefly asked about his seatmate but then then attention turned to Menzio, who was told the woman thought he was a terrorist for “writing strange things on a pad of paper.”
Menzio laughed, showed authorities the piece of paper, and was allowed back on the flight.
Menzio called the incident “a bit funny (but) it’s a bit worrisome. The lady just looked at me, looked at my writing of mysterious formulae, and concluded I was up to no good. Because of that, an entire flight was delayed by 1.5 hours..."
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