"A Jewish prayer box worn by a teen passenger caused a Thursday morning furor on a flight from LaGuardia Airport, forcing an emergency landing in Philadelphia, authorities said.
The mix-up involved the 17-year-old boy's tefillin, a black box filled with Biblical verses and tied with leather straps to his head, said Philadelphia police Lt. Frank Vanore.
Although the teen explained the significance of the tefillin to the crew, the pilot opted to land the plane in Philadelphia anyway, Vanore said.
The tefillin-wearing youth was traveling with his sister from New York to Louisville. The boxes - a second one is tied around the arm - are typically worn by men in certain Orthodox Jewish communities." (source)
Hello! People! I don't give a crap if you're carrying the ashes of Abraham Lincoln and praying that they don't spill. This is POST 9/11 and if you have black boxes strapped to you and you're mumbling prayers (regardless of which God you are praying to), consider yourself a threat. Consider the fact that you're scaring the crap out of the other passengers that are jittery flying anyway. Please consider praying silently in your head and refraining from garb that could harbor explosives for the duration of the flight --is that really too much to ask?!
I was shocked that a poll on the NY Daily News' site has a poll in which 58% voted that this flight landing was due to "cultural ignorance" and 42% (myself included) voted that it was a "necessary precaution in this day and age."
I say bravo to the flight crew that decided to err on the side of caution, and to the young man that cooperated fully (and probably won't be calling the ACLU). This should send a message to CAIR that anyone in strange clothing carrying strange objects and mumbling prayer is subject to suspicion...not just Muslims.