Thursday, March 10, 2005

Angry Persians stage protest on plane

A group of unarmed Iranians staged a protest aboard a Lufthansa jet at the Brussels airport Thursday, refusing to leave the plane and calling for the return of the monarchy in Iran, officials said.

The plane landed at Brussels International airport at 3 p.m. (9 a.m. EST) on a flight from Frankfurt, and the protesters stayed behind after most of the 59 passengers got off.

"This is not a hijacking," said police spokeswoman Astrid Kaisen.

They are sitting on the plane and they don't want to come off," Kaisen said, adding police could not yet confirm the nationalities of the protesters.

She said police negotiators were talking with them.

"No force has been necessary and no extra security measures were taken," she said.

Christina Zia, who said her father called her on his cell phone from the plane, said they were supporters of the late shah and wanted to draw attention to Iran's problems.

"There are no weapons. This is nothing dangerous. They only want the world to see the problems, to see that Iran is not what the world sees today," said Zia, who spoke to The Associated Press by telephone from Germany.

The group had a letter for NATO and refused to leave the plane until they are allowed to hand it over to the alliance, Zia said, adding that she did not know its contents.