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Christian man removed from plane for texting about prayer

Thu 03 Mar 2016
By Antony Bushfield

A Christian man was confronted by armed police whilst sitting on a plane after a fellow passenger reported him for sending a text message about prayer.

Laolu Opebiyi, 40, had to give his phone to officers and leave the Easyjet aircraft at Luton Airport after another man oversaw his WhatsApp message to a chat called "ISI men".

Another passenger reported the incident to cabin crew who called police. Mr Opebiyi, a Nigerian born Christian, was removed and questioned by officers.

He was cleared by detectives but the pilot refused to wait for him on the flight to Amsterdam last Thursday.

Mr Opebiyi told the Guardian: "That guy doesn't know me and within two minutes he's judging me.

"Even if I was a Muslim, it was pretty unfair the way I was treated. I don't think anyone, irrespective of their religion should be treated in such a way.

"If we keep on giving into this kind of bigotry and irrational fear, I dare say that the terrorists will have achieved their aim."

He said he showed police his Bible to prove he was a Christian and explained he was arranging a prayer meeting with his friends.

When he went to the customer services desk to rebook his ticket, he met a group of passengers who had left the plane out of fear.

One of them reportedly said "If he is on the next flight, I am not getting on the flight".

"Someone felt I was a terrorist because they saw the word 'prayer' on my phone and now I stand in uncertainty about my freedom of movement in and out of the United Kingdom," he added.

An EasyJet spokesman said: "easyJet can confirm that, following concerns raised by passengers, the Captain of flight EZY2151 from Luton to Amsterdam on 25 February requested the assistance of the authorities who took the decision to disembark and question the passenger.

"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.

"After questioning by the authorities, the passenger was cleared to complete his journey so easyJet arranged a later easyJet flight for him. We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused to the passenger."

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