Airlines & Airports
Siblings Forced Off easyJet Flight After Passengers Claim ISIS Ties
Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons.
British low-cost airline easyJet is in hot water after a troubling incident in which three British Muslim siblings were removed from a flight and subsequently questioned for an hour following false accusations that they had ties to the Islamic State.
The Irish Times reported 19-year-old Maryam Dharas, 24-year-old Sakina Dharas and their 21-year-old brother Ali Dharas were set to fly from London Stansted Airport to Naples on Aug. 18 when a crew member escorted them off of the aircraft where they were met by police officers.
"I was shocked, my sister was close to tears," Sakina told the times. "The first thing the policeman asks us is if we speak English, which I personally find quite patronizing."
The Times pointed out that the siblings were each born and raised in London and only speak English. Adding to the ridiculousness of the question is the fact Maryam is set to begin an English degree at King's College London this year, per the Times.
The siblings were told that a couple on the plane had reported them to the crew, alleging that they had been reading ISIS materials. However it was later determined that the couple incorrectly read a phrase on one of their phones.
"I would like an apology," Sakina told the Times. "What happened was wrong. This kind of profiling shouldn’t take place. I don’t want this to happen again to anyone else."
The siblings were eventually allowed to reboard the flight to Naples, but not before officers warned that they would conduct background checks while they were in Italy.
"This was bizarre because, if we’re not a threat and we’re allowed on the plane, we’ve all agreed this has been a lie, then what’s the need?" Maryam told the Times. "They said 'if we find anything, we’ll be waiting for you when your plane lands.' What kind of threat was that to make?"
Despite the warning, the family returned to London on Aug. 20 without issue.
Even though the probe came up empty, Essex police stopped short of issuing an apology, instead referring to the couple's tip as being "of good intent."
Nonetheless easyJet has since apologized publicly to the siblings.
"EasyJet can confirm that, following concerns raised by a passenger during the boarding, a member of ground staff requested the assistance of the police, who took the decision to talk to three passengers at the bottom of the aircraft steps, before departure," an airline spokesman said in a statement regarding the incident. "The police then confirmed to the captain that the passengers were cleared to complete their journey and they reboarded the aircraft and the flight departed to Naples."
"The safety and security of its passengers and crew is our highest priority, which means that if a security concern is raised, we will always investigate it as a precautionary measure," the carrier added. "We would like to apologize for any inconvenience caused to the passengers."
For more Impacting Travel News
More by Patrick Clarke
Get Travel Deals and Travel News
Recent Travel Opinions
Cruise Line & Cruise Ship
Cruise Line & Cruise Ship