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Tefillin: A strange box with wires Photo:Reuters
Tefillin: A strange box with wires Photo:Reuters

Is that a bomb strapped to your forehead?

Jewish passenger saying morning prayers on Chicago train causes panic by putting on tefellin, which other passengers thought to be wires of explosive belt

Itamar Eichner
Published: 11.29.07, 16:21 / Israel Jewish Scene

A Jewish passenger on a Chicago train was arrested after fellow passengers accused him of being a suicide bomber.


The incident took place on a train that left Chicago early in the morning – when Jewish men are obligated to put on tefillin (phylacteries). The passenger began strapping the head-tefillin to his forehead and passengers unfamiliar with the custom rushed to the conductor and told him there was a man on board who was fastening a box to his head with wires dangling from it."


The conductor approached the passenger but the latter refused to answer him as he was in the middle of the prayer, heightening the conductor's suspicions. 


Meanwhile, the passengers grew even more frantic when they noticed that the passenger sitting next to the Jewish man had a Middle-Eastern appearance and wore a turban.


"That was too much," said the Bob Byrd, NICTD chief of security.


The passengers panicked and the engine driver stopped the train. Police officers rushed into the train with a bomb-sniffing dog.


Police investigators soon realized their mistake and apologized to the passenger.


"This incident has given us all an opportunity to learn about other religions and their customs," said the chief of security.


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