London: Two Muslim men were forced to get off a plane in Turkey and made to go through security checks again after passengers on a flight operated by a British airline complained that they were "making gestures" to each other and "going to the toilet to use their phones".
They were asked to retrace their steps through security at Izmir airport in Turkey for extra checks sparked by claims made by fellow passengers on the Thomas Cook airline's Manchester-bound plane last week, the Manchester Evening News reported.
Thomas Cook airline apologised to the passengers who came under suspicion after two female passengers told cabin crew that they had witnessed the men "skipping security scanners" and signalling to each other while aboard the plane.
It meant the men had to get off the flight, which had been about to take-off before the passengers spoke up. They returned to the terminal to re-do security checks and were eventually given the all clear to travel. But the incident that took place on Wednesday meant the flight was delayed by nearly 90 minutes.
When the men were finally allowed to re-board, their accusers -- who also alleged they were "making phone calls" -- refused to travel with them, instead choosing to return to the terminal.
As the drama unfolded just before take-off, fellow passengers said they were shocked. One passenger described the scenes as "an embarrassment". "Two innocent Muslim men were marched off the plane and searched as two English ladies refused to fly with them on the plane. The result was a delay for everyone and the men flew, while the women were left behind," the passenger was quoted as saying.
It is understood that the two men were in their seats and preparing for take-off when two women chose to complain to Thomas Cook cabin crew about them, the report said. They complained about the men "making gestures to each other" and "going to the toilet to use their phones", it said.
The women were also said to have alleged the men had "missed the security scanners", leading cabin crew to ask them if they could retrace their steps through the terminal.
The men, who were said to remain calm throughout despite the accusations, were then given the all-clear. A spokesman for the Thomas Cook Airlines, was quoted as saying, "Two customers on this flight were asked to go through security a second time as a precaution after unverified concerns were raised that the initial airport security check had missed them out."
"We'd like to thank these two customers for their patience and apologise for any inconvenience," he said.