Passenger due to fly on crashed PIA flight saved from disaster by system error

Passenger due to fly on crashed PIA flight saved from disaster by system error
Syed Mustafa Ahmed, who should have been on PIA flight PK-8303, seen here in Lahore during a coronavirus rescue and relief effort on May 8, 2020. (Photo courtesy: Syed Mustafa Ahmed)
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Updated 23 May 2020

Passenger due to fly on crashed PIA flight saved from disaster by system error

Passenger due to fly on crashed PIA flight saved from disaster by system error
  • Syed Mustafa Ahmed needed to be in Karachi before a coronavirus curfew kicked in

LAHORE: A passenger who was scheduled to be on Pakistan International Airlines flight PK-8303, which crashed in Karachi on Friday, was prevented from finalizing his booking due to a system error.

Syed Mustafa Ahmed tried three times on Thursday to confirm payment online for his seat 13-A on the flight from Lahore to Karachi, but he was thwarted by a glitch in the online system.

Ahmed told Arab News via telephone he had to be Karachi on Friday before the 5 p.m. coronavirus curfew kicked in and cut off transport links and flight PK-8303 was his best chance.

“I booked myself on seat 13-A, but when the payment option came, there was a system error. I tried three times, but in the last step, the website just wouldn’t let me pay and confirm my booking,” Ahmed said.

A frustrated Ahmed called a friend who worked for a different airline to help him sort the issue out.

“I have a friend who works in Serene Airlines, and I told him I need to take this flight. I asked him for his help with the booking. We tried again, but it just wasn’t happening.”

The A320 Airbus PIA flight Ahmed should have been on crashed into a Karachi neighborhood moments before its scheduled landing with an estimated 98 people on board. 

So far, there has been no confirmation on the number of casualties.


France targets mosques in extremism crackdown

Updated 24 min 19 sec ago

France targets mosques in extremism crackdown

France targets mosques in extremism crackdown
  • Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said that if any of the 76 prayer halls inspected were found to promote extremism they would be closed down
  • Inspections are part of France’s response to two attacks — the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty and the killing of three people in a Nice church

PARIS: French authorities will inspect dozens of mosques and prayer halls suspected of radical teachings starting Thursday as part of a crackdown on extremists following a spate of attacks, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said.

Darmanin told RTL radio that if any of the 76 prayer halls inspected was found to promote extremism they would be closed down.

The inspections are part of the government’s response to two brutal recent attacks that shocked France — the October 16 beheading of a teacher who showed his pupils cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad and the stabbing to death of three people in a church in Nice on October 29.

Darmanin did not reveal which places of worship would be inspected. In a note he sent to regional security chiefs, seen by AFP, he cites 16 addresses in the Paris region and 60 others around the country.

On Twitter Wednesday he said the mosques were suspected of “separatism” — a term President Emmanuel Macron has used to describe ultraconservative Muslims closing themselves off from French society by, for example, enrolling their children in underground schools or forcing young girls to wear the Muslim headscarf.

The rightwing minister told RTL the fact that only a fraction of the around 2,600 Muslim places of worship in France were suspected of peddling radical theories showed “we are far from a situation of widespread radicalization.”

“Nearly all Muslims in France respect the laws of the Republic and are hurt by that (radicalization),” he said.
The killing of teacher Samuel Paty, who had shown his pupils cartoons of Mohammad in a class on free speech, at a school outside Paris sent shockwaves through France, where it was seen as an attack on the republic itself.

In the aftermath of his murder the authorities raided dozens of associations, sports groups and charities suspected of promoting extremism.
They also ordered the temporary closure of a large mosque in the Paris suburb of Pantin that had shared a vitriolic video lambasting Paty.

The government has also announced plans to step up the deportations of illegal migrants on radicalization watchlists.
Darmanin said that 66 of 231 foreigners on a watchlist had been expelled, around 50 others had been put in migrant detention centers and a further 30 had been placed under house arrest.

The minister announced the latest clampdown after receiving fierce criticism for pushing a bill that would make it harder to document police brutality.

Images of officers beating up black music producer Michel Zecler in his studio brought tens of thousands of people onto the streets last weekend against Darmanin’s push to restrict the filming of the police in the new bill.
MPs from Macron’s ruling Republic on the Move party have since announced plans to rewrite the legislation.