Two Muslims offloaded from plane as nervous passengers refuse to fly

Jittery British holidaymakers grounded an airliner in Cyprus for nearly a day when two British Muslims alarmed other passengers. The Excel Airways flight from Larnaca to Manchester was due to leave Cyprus on Sunday – the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks – but was cancelled after passengers refused to fly amid fears they were being targeted by bombers.

The scare began when two Muslim men, believed to be British of Pakistani origin, boarded the flight. Passengers yesterday said cabin crew became suspicious when one of the men refused to leave the onboard toilet as the plane prepared for take-off. When he finally emerged, he told a stewardess he had been praying. The men were then removed from the aircraft and questioned by police, and the flight was cancelled after many of the passengers remaining on board refused to fly.

The Scotsman, 13 September 2005