OPINION: Attempted Terrorist Plot Is Bad News For Nigerians

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Airliner Attack

From The Grio:

Hearing on Christmas Day that a terrorist suspect had been found attempting to detonate a device on a plane was bad news. Finding out that the suspect – Umar Farouk Abdulmutallabhad – was Nigerian was, for me and many other Nigerians, even worse.

Unfortunately, we Nigerians already have a bad reputation around the world. Fraud, corruption, e-mail scams and a whole host of other unsavory behaviors usually come to mind when people talk about Nigeria. Adding international terrorism to that list is far from what the country – which in recent years has been working hard to transform its image – and its citizens, both in Nigeria and in the diaspora, need or want. The speed with which the Nigerian government, as well as other key Nigerian organizations, condemned the incident attests to a strong desire to lessen the damaging impact of this incident.

The impact is already being felt, though. Traveling on a Nigerian passport was already hard work before Christmas Day. Those of us who are citizens of other countries (I’m British) tend not to bring out our green Nigerian passport unless absolutely necessary since the stereotypes precede us and immigration officials in the US or Europe often greet Nigerian travelers with suspicion. This incident will no doubt lead to increased scrutiny and profiling. This seems to be happening already, in fact: another Nigerian man who spent a long time in a bathroom on a plane shortly after the Christmas Day incident sparked a security alert although it turned out the length of time he spent in the bathroom was due to stomach issues. Before Christmas Day, he would have been another Nigerian man traveling on business. Now, he’s a potential terrorist.

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