A plane makes an emergency landing in Rome… because an Egyptian passenger wrote “I love Allah” on a sheet of paper

A Vueling flight from Paris

Screenshot of video footage filmed during the arrest of an Egyptian passenger on a Vueling flight on November 7, 2023 in Rome © Les Observateus de France 24

s to Cairo was diverted for a stopover in Rome on Tuesday, November 7, in order to deport an Egyptian passenger. Videos obtained by France 24 show the man being arrested on board by Italian police. He had been accused of writing “I love Allah” on a form after taking medication. A “blood-curdling” scene, according to our Observer, who saw the whole thing.

It was around 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, November 7, when Vueling flight VL8522, bound for Cairo from Paris Orly, flew over the island of Brač in Croatia, then suddenly turned west to land at Rome’s Fiumicino airport.

Playback of flight VY8522 / VLG8522 (Diverted to FCO)https://t.co/3dHRkZzaO1

1/ The A321 flight of the Vueling company, which left Paris Orly at 11.40 am towards Cairo, was forced to make an emergency landing at Rome Fiumicino airport. pic.twitter.com/879GiyOaGJ
– GiamMa-based researchers SDR R&D IoT (@giammaiot2) November 9, 2023

On board, the behavior of a 29-year-old passenger decided the crew to divert the flight. According to the Italian customs authorities contacted by our editorial staff, the man felt unwell and asked to take medication. “He had to sign a paper saying he had taken the medicine on his own responsibility. It seems that someone from the crew read on this paper the words ‘I love Allah’, which would have led to triggering the emergency landing.” The Italian police claim not to have had access to the paper in question.

After landing at Rome’s Fiumicino airport, the man was apprehended by Italian police. Two videos obtained by our editorial staff document the scene. They show the passenger shouting, in English, “I didn’t do anything”, “I didn’t cause any trouble”, “I want help” or “I’m from Egypt.” He appears to give an address in Arabic.

The Italian customs authorities claim that “it is the captain’s decision to request a landing” and that he is “not obliged to give any reason” to the airport he requests.

For its part, Vueling simply states that the flight was “diverted to Rome for safety reasons due to the inappropriate behavior of a passenger”. In the name of “passenger safety”, the airline said it had “followed established protocols” and requested “the intervention of security forces”, without giving any further details. When questioned, Vueling said it could not comment on the reasons for reporting the passenger, “whether it was what he wrote on his discharge or his behavior”.

“It only reinforces the feeling among Muslims that the West holds a grudge against them”

Our Observer Pierre (pseudonym) was close to the passenger. He says he showed no signs of agitation until the plane landed in Rome.

We were due to take off at 11am. There was a 20-minute delay, then the pilot announced that there was an electronic problem, and 30 minutes later we were taken off the plane and told we had to board another aircraft. In the end, we took off three hours late.

I was in the immediate vicinity of the young man. I had no trouble with him. He never shouted, insulted or did anything disturbing during the whole flight. I didn’t see him take any medication, but maybe I missed it.

An hour after take-off, I went to the toilet and in the back of the plane I saw a stewardess in tears. It worried me, but I thought she might have personal reasons and tried to put it out of my mind so I wouldn’t be distressed myself. And then, an hour later, we’re told we’re going to land, with no further details!

“We wonder what’s going on, if it’s a bomb…”

There’s a bit of grumbling, but among the passengers, some Egyptians make jokes about it, and so does the young man. The plane was on the ground, and at around 6 p.m., a woman near the young man’s seat wanted to get up to go to the toilet, she explained that it was urgent, and then a steward yelled at her to stay in her seat and said that the police were on board, and that we were under emergency procedure. We start to wonder what’s going on, if it’s a bomb… Then very quickly, at 6.15pm, the police are there and they take the young man away, who shouts that he hasn’t done anything.

We stayed on the plane for another hour without any information before we were finally disembarked in Rome. We didn’t leave until 0.15… On the new flight, with a new crew, I asked a steward if he knew what had happened, but he wouldn’t tell me. I think it’s crazy that you can divert a plane and get arrested for writing the word Allah on a piece of paper. The whole thing makes my blood run cold. Decisions like this only reinforce the feeling among Muslims that the West has it in for them.

The Italian customs authorities claim that, contrary to Italian media reports, there were no snipers on the runway when the man was landed, but “a normal security system, with armed police”. The man was quickly released, as “no judicial problems” had been documented in his case, according to the same authorities.

A local source in Egypt, who spoke with relatives of the passenger in his village, confirmed to our editorial staff on Friday November 10 that the man had finally arrived in his country, but had been unable to obtain further details at the time of publication of this article.Screenshot of video footage filmed during the arrest of an Egyptian passenger on a Vueling flight on November 7, 2023 in Rome © Les Observateus de France 24

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