Many years ago, some editor got his knickers in a twist when I wrote that the last thing you want to overhear on an airplane is somebody shouting "Allahu Akbar!" ("God is great!") -- the Moslem religious phrase that is also commonly used as a war cry by Islamic terrorists.
It's true, though, political correctness aside. The last thing those doomed innocent passengers on those planes that crashed in horrific fury on 9/11 heard was their murderers screaming that phrase.
So it's understandable that people are a little, shall we say, wary of anyone on an airplane who hollers it, in Arabic or in English. Let's just say that, in flight, it isn't interpreted as an expression of simple piety.
So have a look at this situation yesterday on a Houston-bound Continental flight that had to return to Portland after an unruly passenger, upset that he couldn't have a seat beside his friend, began acting out after being told to settle down. Here's a link to an excellent video report on KHOU-TV in Houston.
A female passenger says of the disruptive passenger, who was identified in a federal indictment today as a 19-year-old Saudi citizen in the U.S. as a tourist: "He was screaming, "Allah is great! Allah is great! And it kind of worries you when all of that happens. But there were enough men [among fellow passengers] to hold him down."
Passengers assisted flight attendants in subduing the troublemaker. A male passenger explained, "Every guy in my area was ready to go."
To which I add, "And thank God for that."
UPDATE -- A federal indictment today charged the passenger, Yazeed Mohammed A. Abunayyan, 19, with a felony count of interfering with a flight crew member.
On the plane, he engaged in "yelling profanities and swinging his fist at the flight attendant, hitting or attempting to hit several passengers and speaking or singing about Usama [sic] Bin Laden and his hatred for women," according to the indictment.
[UPDATE -- The plot thickens. According to The Smoking Gun, the bozo who disrupted that flight, a Saudi citizen, had just got out of jail on bail after a nasty, drunken run-in with the police in Oregon the other day. He's said to have been in the U.S. as a tourist, visiting relatives.]