Say good-bye to illegally crossing borders by foot or by jumping fences.  Now all you have to do is hijack a plane, at least according to Hakan Ekinci, a Turkish army deserter and recent Christian convert who decided to combine terrorist tactics with immigration. 

Ekinci was allegedly seeking asylum because he feared persecution in Turkey, a predominately Muslim country, after his conversion to Christianity.  His solution was hijacking a Turkish airliner that was on its way to Italy in hopes of gaining the Pope’s protection. 
This was his “best” solution?  Here are some excerpts from the Washington Post article.

“…Italy’s interior minister Giuliano Amato told lawmakers, Ekinci slipped into the cockpit when an attendant opened the door and gave the pilot a note insisting that he had a message to deliver to the pope and that accomplices aboard another plane would “blow that plane up” if his message didn’t reach the pontiff.”

“He was obsessed with speaking to the pope, to say that he wanted to be protected, that he had embraced this (Christian) religion,” Giannuzzi said.”

I think it’s the Pope and greater society who need the protection from him.

It gets even better:

“Amato said that while the hijacker wanted to deliver a message for the pope, he was not carrying any written letter for the pontiff.”

“Ekinci had briefly served time in prison in 2003 for swindling and attempting to leave the country with another person’s passport, the Turkish police said.”

 “Turkish officials have said that Hakan Ekinci was being sent back by Albania, where he had been denied asylum, to Turkey aboard the Turkish Airlines Boeing 737-400, with police waiting to arrest him in Istanbul where the 28-year-old deserter and convicted swindler would have landed Tuesday night.”

And now it all makes a little more sense!  Could it be that he was a crook avoiding consequences and neither a devout Muslim nor Christian escaping persecution for religious conversion?  The Albanians don’t want him and Italians are more than ready to try him.  Maybe going back home to Turkey doesn’t seem like it was such a bad idea after all.

Oddly to his credit, you can’t say he was a hijacker without some manners.

“As the hijacking ended, Ekinci “walked through the middle of the business class and said, ‘I apologize to all of you … Good night,'” a Turkish passenger, Ergun Erkoseoglu, said upon returning to Istanbul.”

As relieved as the passengers may have been that the end result was not far worse, I don’t think “I’m sorry” was what they were quite looking for.