Ryanair passenger racism video prompts police investigation

In this file photo taken on September 21, 2017 A Ryanair plane lands at Dublin Airport on September 21, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 23 October 2018
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Ryanair passenger racism video prompts police investigation

  • Ryanair are accountable for the protection of their customers and they FAILED!

DUBLIN: A viral video showing a man racially abusing an elderly passenger on a Ryanair flight has prompted widespread outrage and an investigation by British police.
The video — now viewed on Facebook more than four million times — appears to show a white man in an altercation with a black woman over seating arrangements in their row.
Despite protests from another passenger that the woman was disabled, the man can be heard threatening to push her and and calling her an “ugly black bastard” in the three minute clip.
A cabin crew member and a passenger can be seen intervening in an apparent attempt to calm the man, whilst another can be heard pleading for staff to move the woman.
But the no-frills Irish airline has drawn criticism on social media for failing to eject the abusive passenger from the flight.
“He refused to sit next to the woman because she was black,” wrote David Lawrence, the man who filmed the incident, in a caption to the video on Facebook.
“Ryanair are accountable for the protection of their customers and they FAILED!“
“The elderly lady was moved to another seat whilst the man was allowed to continue his journey with extra room and on board service,” he added on Youtube.
Lawrence also said he has drawn personal criticism for choosing to record the situation rather than intervene.
“One of the passengers whilst I was filming basically said to me don’t you think you’re being a bit childish by filming this,” he told BBC Breakfast.
“I had to make a difficult decision at that time because if I had stepped in I don’t think you would have seen the footage that I captured.”
Lawrence said the video was filmed on flight FR 9015 from Barcelona to London Stansted on Friday 19 October.
British police say they understand the incident took place whilst the plane was on the tarmac at Barcelona airport.
Essex Police, the force with jurisdiction over Stansted Airport, told AFP they were made aware of the incident on Sunday and are now working with Spanish officers on an investigation.
“Essex Police takes prejudice-based crime seriously and we want all incidents to be reported,” a spokesman said in a statement.
“We are working closely with Ryanair and the Spanish authorities on the investigation.”
Ryanair said in a statement: “We have reported this to the police in Essex and as this is now a police matter, we cannot comment further.”
Asked about the incident at a daily press briefing on Monday, Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said: “When people are traveling and going about their public life, no-one should be subjected to intimidation or any form of abuse.”


The scent of soap making returns to Aleppo

Syrian businessman Ali Shami arranges olive soap bars in a factory on the outskirts of Aleppo. (AFP)
Updated 23 March 2019
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The scent of soap making returns to Aleppo

  • Shami carried out limited renovations — just enough to produce more than half of his pre-war output of around 800 tons a year

ALEPPO: After years of war, the scent of laurel oil once again wafts from a small soap workshop in Aleppo, signaling the revival of a landmark trade in the battered northern city.
Surrounding soap workshops in the Al-Nayrab district still lie in ruins, badly damaged in the four-year battle for the former opposition stronghold. But for Ali Shami, hanging up his apron was not an option.
“I never stopped making soap throughout the war — even if it was just a little,” says the 44-year-old, who fled his home city during the fighting.
“But this workshop is special,” he tells AFP. “It was here that I started more than 30 years ago.”
Shami reopened his soap workshop last month after shutting it down in 2012, when Syria’s second city became a main front in the eight-year-long conflict.
The scars of war are still visible on the building, its walls punctured with holes caused by shelling. Rushes of wind gust through the gaps.
Shami carried out limited renovations — just enough to produce more than half of his pre-war output of around 800 tons a year.
He installed a new metal door and refurbished the main rooms where the soap mixture is heated and then poured out to dry.
He watches as five workers stir a thick mixture of olive and laurel oil in a large vat.
Beside them, another five workers slice cooled and hardened green paste into cubes and stack them in staggered racks.
Shami says he was able to resume operations quickly because Aleppo soap is handmade.
Its production “relies on manual labor, a successful mixture, the passion of Aleppo’s residents, and their love of the profession,” he says.
After closing down in 2012, Shami tried to continue his work in other major Syrian cities. “My existence is tied to the existence” of soap, he says.
He moved to the capital, Damascus, and the regime-held coastal city of Tartous, but Shami says the soap was not as good.
“Aleppo’s climate is very suitable for soap production and the people of Aleppo know the secret of the trade and how to endure the hardship of the many stages of its production,” he says.
Shami, who inherited the soap business from his father and grandfather, boasts about the superior qualities of Aleppo soap, the oldest of its kind in the world.
“Aleppo soap distinguishes itself from other soaps around the world as it is made almost entirely of olive oil,” he says.
“European soap, on the other hand, includes animal fats, while soaps made in Asia are mixed with vegetal oils but not olive oil,” he says.
The Aleppo region is well-known for its olive oil and sweet bay oil, or laurel.
Shami says the Aleppo soap industry was hit hard by the fierce clashes that rocked his home city, before ending in late 2016 when the army took back opposition districts with Russian military support.
While conditions are less dangerous today, soap producers still grapple with shortages of raw material and skilled labor, he says.
“We are struggling with the aftermath of the battles,” he says.
Dozens of soap producers are still waiting to complete renovations before reopening their workshops. Hisham Gebeily is one of them.
His soap-making center in the Old City of Aleppo, named after the family, has survived for generations, dating back to the 18th century.
The three-story stone workshop covers a space of around 9,000 square meters, and is considered among the largest in the city.
But the 50-year-old man was forced to close it in 2012.
The structure still stands, although damaged by the fighting: Parts of it have been charred by shelling and wooden beams supporting the roof are starting to fall apart.
“Before the conflict, the city of Aleppo housed around 100 soap factories,” he says.