Devout Christian, Laolu Opebiyi, 40, a business analyst from London, was recently ordered off an EasyJet flight at Luton Airport because a fellow passenger had been spying on his phone from over his shoulder and may have misread the title of the whatsapp prayer group ‘Isi men’ as ‘Isis men’, he says.
His accuser then asked him: ‘What do you mean by “prayer?”‘ before walking towards the cockpit and asking to get off. 6 other passengers also left the plane. 2 armed police officers then arrived and told Opebiyi to pick up his belongings and get off the plane.
They then repeatedly questioned him about his faith, which church he attended and whether he was considering converting to Islam. He told the Guardian: ‘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 in to this kind of bigotry and irrational fear, I dare say that the terrorists will have achieved their aim.” He explained to police that the WhatsApp group was called ‘ISI’ because it is short for ‘iron sharpens iron’ – a Bible passage about prayer which says: ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another’
The police then released him but he was further shamed because as he returned to the EasyJet desk to get to Holland, the 7 passengers refused to travel with him. One said: ‘If he is on the next flight, I am not getting on the flight.’ He eventually travelled on the 10.25am flight – 4 hours after he was originally due to fly.
Opebiyi now fears he is on a terror watchlist because he was stopped by officials as he travelled back from Amsterdam the following day. His passport also failed to work at the electronic departure gates. A spokesman of EasyJet later apologized to him, but said they had to investigate.