Well, what goes around, comes around. We have to admit a certain amount of malicious pleasure (well, let's be honest - a lot of malicious pleasure) at the news that Britain's first Muslim government minister was detained at an American airport where his hand luggage was analysed for traces of explosive materials.
Shahid Malik, MP for Dewsbury and International Development Minister, was returning to Heathrow after a series of meetings and talks on - wait for it - tackling terrorism when he was stopped at Dulles Airport in Washington DC. He was searched and detained by the Department of Homeland Security - the same department whose representatives he had been meeting on his visit to the country.
Mr.Malik said he was particularly annoyed as a similar thing happened to him last year, when he was detained for an hour at JFK airport in New York by the DHS - despite the fact that he was a keynote speaker at an event organised by the department, alongside the FBI and Muslim organisations in New York. The theme of that speech was tackling extremism and defeating terrorism. Perhaps it was a rotten speech - it probably lasted more than 70 seconds and didn't mention beefburgers.
After his detention, which lasted about 40 minutes, he said: "I am deeply disappointed. The abusive attitude I endured last November I forgot about and I forgave, but I really do believe that British Ministers and Parliamentarians should be afforded the same respect and dignity at USA airports that we would bestow upon our colleagues in the Senate and Congress."
Why, Mr.Malik, one might almost think you were suggesting that because you're a government minister, the same rules that apply to the rest of us shouldn't apply to you? And when ordinary people are inconvenienced at airports, when they are subject to absurd luggage restrictions, when they have to queue like cattle to pass through Gestapo-style checkpoints, when their baggage is opened and rifled by grinning, self-important jobsworths, that's OK? But when someone does it to you, that's "abusive"?
I never thought I'd say it, but … nice one, Department of Homeland Security. Do it again. Go on, I dare you … there's this well-known Scottish terrorist, for example, Big Gordie Broon - he could do with a turning-over for a start …
Mind you, others have it worse. The Foreign Minister of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro was detained at John F.Kennedy airport, New York, for more than hour as he tried to return home. Officials alleged that he had links with a failed coup led by Venezuela's President Chavez in 1992. "They held him accusing him of participating in terrorist acts here," Chavez said in Venezuela. "Though he didn't even participate in that patriotic rebellion."
Venezuela has complained to the United Nations that officials ordered Maduro to go to another room for a strip-search - he refused. He told reporters that the official pushed him and yelled at him. The situation only worsened when he explained he was the Venezuelan foreign minister and presented his diplomatic passport. Officials ordered him to spread his arms and legs and be frisked, and threatened to handcuff him. He said the incident prevented him from flying home that day.
U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said it was a "regrettable incident" for which "the U.S. government has apologized."
In India earlier this year the Sri Lankan Deputy Minister for Higher Education was detained at an airport in Kerala.
While researching this page we came across an interesting list of people who have been kicked off airplanes lately …
On a Continental Express-Jet flight a toddler wouldn't stop repeating the phrase "bye-bye, plane" as a crew member recited the safety precautions. The attendant suggested that the mother should give the child a tranquilliser. She refused, so the plane returned to the gate and said bye-bye to the mother and child.
A Muslim doctor from Winnipeg was thrown off a United Airlines flight last year, and an Orthodox Jewish passenger tossed off a Canadian Air Jazz flight - for praying. And a group of imams were removed from a US Airways flight after praying in the airport terminal.
On a Delta flight operated by none other than Freedom Airlines, a nursing mother was ejected for breast-feeding her baby. She was sitting by the window at the rear of the plane with her husband beside her, so it's hard to see how anyone could have had a clear view. Nevertheless a flight attendant asked her to cover up, and when she refused was ejected from the plane.
A United Airlines crew ejected a TV star and her company from a flight last year. The actress Mo'Nique was seated in first class, but her stylist was in economy. When the stylist stashed a hair dryer in the first-class lockers, the whole group were thrown off. "I felt like I was being treated like an animal," Mo'Nique told reporters. "This happens to black people all the time, and they don't have a voice. I have a voice."
Lorrie Heasley wore her favourite "Meet the Fockers" T-shirt to amuse her Democrat parents who were meeting her at Portland. It advertised a 2004 movie and featured images of President Bush, Condoleezza Rice and Dick Cheney. When she got on the plane in Los Angeles nobody had complained, but when she changed flights in Reno they did, and she was left on the tarmac.
Technically, waitress and college student Kyla Ebbert wasn't thrown off a Southwest Airlines flight this summer. But she earned five minutes of fame on television by being escorted off the flight and lectured about her wardrobe before being allowed to return to the plane. Her skirt was too short. The incident, she said, was humiliating, and the airline apologised.
Three princesses from the Qatar royal family were booted off a British Airways flight earlier this year after they refused to sit next to male passengers they didn't know. It apparently violates their customs. The flight crew tried to shuffle seating to accommodate their complaints but other passengers refused to move. The flight was delayed more than two hours before the captain ordered the princesses off the plane.
Heh heh heh.
In 2005, a French woman on a Cathay Pacific flight tried to open an airplane door at 30,000 feet to smoke a cigarette. She admitted later that she was confused because she'd taken a sleeping pill and alcohol before the flight.
R.E.M. guitarist Pete Buck was arrested in 2001 for spraying the cabin crew with yoghurt. Quite right, too. Nasty stuff, yoghurt. He also blamed his behaviour on sleeping pills and alcohol. Bono and other musicians later testified to Buck's good character and a jury cleared him of all charges. This was probably the last time anyone actually took any notice of Bono.
Here's a helpful hint for airline employees …
… the passengers are supposed to go in the plane …
The GOS says: I have been unable to find any details about a story that a male passenger was ejected from a flight because he had helped the cabin crew restrain a woman who was trying to open the door in flight. Sounds amusing. Can anyone point me in the right direction?
either on this site or on the World Wide Web.
Copyright © 2007 The GOS
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