London, Jul 4: A Pakistani-origin man was today jailed for 10 weeks for triggering panic and frightening passengers on a UK-bound flight by shouting "Allah-o-Akbar" and "boom". Shehraz Sarwar caused alarm with his behaviour during turbulence on-board an Emirates Boeing 777 from Dubai to Birmingham in February this year.
"There was terrible turbulence during the flight and some passengers were very frightened. The defendant started chanting Allah-o-Akbar over and over again and very loudly. People were getting very distressed with his behaviour. When the plane finally landed, he shouted 'boom'," prosecutor Alex Warren told Birmingham Crown Court.
"It left some passengers in tears while one man angrily confronted the defendant before being told to sit down by cabin staff. Police were then called and the defendant was arrested," he said. Warren informed the court of Sarwar's previous convictions for dishonesty and violence, Birmingham Mail reported. Judge Francis Laird rebuked the 38-year-old for misbehaving and being "arrogant on-board".
"Set in the context of the current political situation, chanting Allah-o-Akbar over and over again while on a plane had a frightening affect on some of the passengers and reduced some to tears. Incidents such as these on planes are taken very seriously by the courts and due to the circumstances I have no alternative but to send you to prison for 10 weeks," the judge said.
Sarwar's defence lawyer Balbir Singh admitted his client had been "foolish" to shout boom but argued that he had been upset after attending his grandmothers funeral in Pakistan. "Sarwar was scared during the flight. He prayed, chanting Allah-o-Akbar, which translates as God is Great. When the plane landed he did shout out 'boom'. It was a very foolish thing to do.
He is very sorry for his actions and realises what distress this caused to other passengers," Singh said. However, the judge told Sarwar that over and above the jail term he would be placed on licence with a 12-month supervision order when released.