A Ryanair flight from Brussels to Madrid was delayed for several hours earlier today (2 September) after a man shouted 'Allahu Akbar' while waiting for takeoff. The 51-year-old man and eight other passengers whom he was travelling with were promptly thrown off the flight set to leave Zaventem airport at around 7am this morning.
Federal police confirmed to news channel VTM Nieuws that all nine men were of Belgian nationality. The law enforcement agency's Peter De Waele explained to the channel: "The flight commander refused to take these nine people."
"One of them was a foolish joker and called 'Allahu Akbar'," he said. "All the luggage had to be taken off as the bomb squad was called in with sniffer dogs." Passengers on the plane were evacuated as a result of the incredibly ill-advised prank.
The flight was eventually cleared for takeoff at 9.25am after nothing was found during the search. The police noted that both the airline crew and passengers were terrified for their safety during the initial incident.
'Allahu Akbar' is an Arabic phrase which translates directly into English as "Allah is Greater" but is more commonly paraphrased as "God is great". Members of the Islamic faith regularly use the phrase during prayer, family ceremonies, and as a peaceful, everyday tribute to God throughout the Muslim world.
However, its reported use during high-profile terror attacks has changed its perception, particularly in the west. A full investigation is currently underway.
A Ryanair spokesman told Mail Online: "The crew of this flight from Brussels to Madrid (2 Sep) requested police assistance after a number of passengers became disruptive prior to departure. Police removed and detained the individuals before the aircraft departed to Madrid.
"We will not tolerate unruly or disruptive behaviour at any time and the safety and comfort of our customers, crew and aircraft is our number one priority. This is now a matter for local police."