A Nigerian man living in the United Kingdom was totally humiliated on Thursday as he tried to travel on a flight to Amsterdam, Holland, after he was mistaken for an ISIS jihadist.
The 40-year-old Laolu Opebiyi, a devout Christian, was on an easyJet flight scheduled to take off by 6.45am local time but was delayed for four hours after he was ordered to leave the plane.
A fellow passenger sitting behind Opebiyi had earlier disembarked from the flight, after sighting a WhatsApp group on his (Opebiyi’s) phone that read: ‘Isi men’, thinking he saw ‘Isis men’.
Added to the group’s name was the word “prayer”.
The disturbed passenger asked him what he meant by “prayer”, before proceeding to vacate the plane.
Opebiyi was escorted off the plane by two armed officers after six other passengers also disembarked.
When he was queried by the police officers, Opebiyi explained that ‘Isi’ was a shortened form of ‘Iron sharpens iron’, a prayer verse in the Bible that says: ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another’.
After convincing the officers, he was allowed back on the flight but seven other people disembarked from the flight, refusing to travel with him, with one going as far as saying he would not take the next flight if Opebiyi was on it.
He was however able to leave for Amsterdam at 10.25am, four hours after his originally-scheduled flight.
Speaking with the Guardian, Opebiyi said of his ordeal: “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.”