We’ve all seen the films where the loveable leading man stows away on the same flight as his beloved and then makes grand gestures over the loudspeaker.
It’s quirky. It’s trope-y.
It’s fiction and it’s dangerous.
On March 29, 2016, 58 year old Egyptian man, Seif Eldin Mustafa hijacked EgyptAir Flight MS181. He strapped old cellphone cases around his waist and then claimed that it was an explosive belt.
Mustafa redirected the flight from it’s intended destination to Cairo, to Cyprus’ Larnaca Airport.
After taking over the plane, Mustafa demanded that Foreign Minister, Ioannis Kasoulides, allow him to speak with his ex-wife, a Cypriot national. Mustafa demanded that she be brought to the airport to meet with him.
He then proceed to make a series of, in Kasoulides’ words, “incoherent” demands.
After landing, Mustafa released all women and children of the 77 people aboard the flight. Twenty minutes later, he released all Egyptians.
With only a few non-Egyptians left on the flight, Mustafa eventually let everyone go and then turned himself in.
Ridiculous as this sounds, in 2016, when everyone’s waiting for the next horrific headline, it’s almost difficult to find funny. Mustafa has a criminal record, including escaping from prison in 2011. Frankly, EgyptAir was lucky that the explosives were fake. The incident raises a lot of questions about aviation security.
And perhaps the most disturbing part of the whole scandal is a response from Cypriot President, Nicos Anastasiades, to a reporter’s question about the link between Mustafa’s hijacking and romance:
“Always there is a woman involved.”
Followed by laughter.
So. Anyone else laughing at the lengths we’ll go for love?