The story that made the rounds of the world that a Muslim man was apprehended on an Air Malta plane when he persisted in praying out aloud in the aisle just as the plane was taxying to take off at London’s Heathrow Airport, now has to be revised.
It was a Caribbean Christian man, Maria Busuttil who was on the plane with him, told The Times. And the prayer he was chanting was the ‘Our Father’.
Yet even yesterday on In-Nazzjon, Brian Grech who had a hand in restraining the man, still insisted the man was an Arab Muslim.
Writing on The Times comment pages yesterday, Ahmed Sain wrote: “For all of you who made a comment yesterday on this subject, I think you got it all wrong regarding this man’s religion. Now you guys ask for forgiveness.”
Meanwhile, unbeknown to most Maltese, comments on foreign papers were not all unanimously in favour of the crew’s action to remove the man from the plane. Many said that in a multicultural society, a man might be allowed to pray as his religion orders him to do.
Thus, a Max from Amsterdam wrote on the Der Telegraaf comment blog: “This often happens. Even before 9/11. Then it was no problem. The most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen to leave for New York: a Muslim and a Jew side by side were praying. If you’re afraid you must stay home.”
And another person, LLW from Amsterdam too, wrote: “Let the man pray! That was an exaggerated response from the passengers. I hope the praying gentleman can go home again soon.”
And in a comment that in the light of the new developments is particularly interesting, a writer wrote on the comment pages of the German paper Tagespiegel: “The incitement of fear of Islamic terrorism, now makes innocent, devout Muslims into terrorists, when they probably have nothing to do with it.
“Moreover, it is not Islam, it is the man in his interpretation, acting out very, very strange.
“Had another passenger, from another religion, crossed himself several times, and recited the ‘Our Father’ would such panic have broken out among the passengers or would this behaviour have seemed as normal, because that is how the civilised West felt?
“Here there is a lot of ignorance among our leaders, and this results in this fear, which is many times deliberately fomented. It serves a purpose, to justify a war.
“Among the many blind people, the one-eyed man is king. It follows that for 200 Christian passengers, this man must be a Muslim terrorist, he must be. Simple.”