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Pilots lock down cockpit after 3 passengers perform Jewish prayer on flight

19 March 2011 General 6 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

LOS ANGELES, CALIF.—Pilots on an Alaska Airlines flight locked down the cockpit and alerted authorities after three passengers conducted an elaborate Orthodox Jewish prayer ritual during their Los Angeles-bound flight.

Airline spokeswoman Bobbie Egan says the crew of Flight 241 from Mexico City became alarmed Sunday after the men began the ritual, which involves tying leather straps and small wooden boxes to the body.

FBI and customs agents, along with police and fire crews, met the plane at the gate at Los Angeles International Airport.

Airport police say two or three men were escorted off the plane, questioned by the FBI, and released. No arrests were made.

Original post: Pilots lock down cockpit after 3 passengers perform Jewish prayer on flight


  1. Personally, I’m really much more concerned by christians praying in groups… I’ve got a frakkin’ idea…if you don’t know what it is and you don’t know if it’s cause for concern (I will admit that the boxes, if you don’t know about them could be something that could cause alarm)…and then, next time, educate yourself…

    Ignorance astounds me. I’ve only vaguely seen this type of prayer, but I think that I would’ve asked when the prayer was over, at least if I was an employee…

    Peace, Meredith

  2. I am thankful to Islamophobia Today for publishing this article about the terrible lockdown treatment accorded to three Orthodox Jews on a flight. This kind of religious and ethnic discrimination simply has got to stop. There is more that Jews and Muslims share that bounds us together than separates us at least here in the United States. We have to challenge the status quo and the ignorance and demand equal treatment.

  3. I just do not agree with you. If they were going to perform this ritual on the plane they should have informed the airline. Anyone can pray on an airline but performing rituals should be done elsewhere. These people had to know they were going to cause a problem, they should have spent a night in jail for disrupting the flight.

  4. should Catholics inform them when say their rosary, or protestants who pray before they eat? What nonsece perhaps their should be some training on religious diversity for flight attendants…or (gasp!) they could hire some people from diverse religions who can understand when people are praying?

  5. Having come from an Orthodox Jewish and Roman Catholic background (an unusual marriage on the part of my parents!), I have to say that silent Protestant prayer, or Catholic prayer involving passing one’s fingers along the beads of a rosary (or similarly, Buddhist prayer involving a bracelet of mala beads) is not going to appear as alarming as Orthodox Jewish prayer using the tefillin, two small leather boxes the person at prayer straps onto his arm and forehead in a particular ceremonial way. To those unfamiliar with this prayer ceremony, it could look like someone was strapping explosives onto himself — a scary thing to think you’re observing when you’re on a plane in flight! It would be helpful if airlines educated on-flight employees about this ceremony, but it would also help if the passenger informed the flight personnel about this manner of prayer before he began its practice.

  6. It was not just a prayer, it was a ritual: I did not say they could not do it I simply stated they should have informed the flight crew, as the actions were unusual enough to warrent some type of notice given. A person bowing his head or a Catholic with a rosary do not warrent the same attention as a person with leather straps and boxes being placed on various parts of their body.

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