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Air Carrier �Atlant� refused Flight for five Muslims

The Egyptian newspaper �Akbar el-Khavadet� reported an incident with Russian citizens at the airport of the city Sharm-el-Sheikh yesterday. The commander of the plane �Il-86� of the company �Atlant Union� made three women wearing headscarves and two Muslim men leave the plane following desperate requests of passengers. �Atlant Union� declared that the actions of the crew were absolutely justified. Representatives of the Muslim community showed �understanding for such episodes�.

According to the Egyptian newspaper, the commander of the Il-86 of the company �Atlant Union�, flying to Moscow on flight number 9541, refused giving the order for take off as long as there were these three women wearing headscarves and the two men in the plane, whose appearance had caused suspicion amongst the passengers. The commander contacted the management of the airline and the security service of the airport. As a result, five Russians were removed from the flight. The flight of the Il-86 with two hundreds passengers was checked by policemen, and took off for Moscow with a 50 minute delay. The five Moslems, after additional careful examination, went to Russia on a flight of �Atlant Union� with one day�s delay, and with the women having been asked not to wear headscarves.

�Actually, the initiative about the check of these five people did not come from the crew but from passengers sitting near to those people�, specified George Bautin, press-secretary of the airline. �The crew considered their suspicions and asked the security service of the airport for an additional check. The commander of the plane had all rights to do that�.

We have to add that the commander of the plane who refused the five Muslims followed the Aircode of the Russian Federation, Clause 58, which allows evicting suspicious persons from the plane. In particular, the clause says: �the Commander of an air vessel has the right to apply ... measures of compulsion concerning persons whose actions create a direct threat of safety to the flight ... and to those who refuse submitting to orders of the commander of an air vessel�.

In the embassy of the Russian Federation in Cairo, they announced that, despite of the publicity of this incident, there will be no official press statement. Nevertheless, an employee of the embassy with which the newspaper was in contact, noted that �careful checks of Muslims, especially coming back from places of pilgrimage and who leave for Russia by plane, occur regularly at Egyptian airports. Usually, all are limited to strict examination after which the passenger departs together with the others�, admitted the speaker.

�Yes, we constantly collide with such cases�, declared the press-secretary for the advice of muftis (religious leader) of the Russian Federation Gulnuur Gazieva, �but we try to treat them with understanding. In fact, all these cases are results of stereotypic ideas about Muslims in national clothes as potentially doing harm. However, all of us try to educate people and insist that the type of clothes, the behavior, and the way of life should not be an occasion for discrimination�.

Source: Kommersant
Issued by: Moscow Bureau of Human Rights

� 1993-2003

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