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Remember one of Bruno Mars’ earliest songs? The one with the refrain that goes:
I’d catch a grenade for you Throw my hand in a blade for you I’d jump in front of a train for you You know I would do anything for you I would go through all of this pain Take a bullet straight right through my brain Yes, I would die for you baby But you won’t do the same
This must have been Seif Eldin Mustafa’s theme song when he decided to hijack an EgyptAir flight from Alexandria to Cairo carrying 72 passengers and crew, claiming he was wearing a suicide belt and forcing the pilot to divert the plane to Cyprus.
A terrorist he turned out not to be—thank goodness. The bomb was fake but his desperation was real.
What he was, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said bluntly, was an idiot. A lovesick, demented, foolish idiot who hijacked an Airbus 320 passenger jet, causing worldwide panic and putting the lives of all onboard in peril just to get a message out to his ex-wife who lived in Larnaca.
With all the shit going on in the world—what with ISIS blowing up dense public areas in Brussels and Ankara, Boko Haram burning bodies live in Nigeria, and an extremist Taliban faction killing Christians at Easter in Lahore—Mustafa’s brand of extremism may seem more farcical than tragic, yet it clearly highlights the dangers of obsession; of that all-consuming, pathological love that somehow never fades in time. I mean, all I got were mixed tapes, long, pleading missives, and plaintive songs especially composed for me, and Marina Paraschou gets a plane hijacked by her ex-husband who just wanted to show the world how much he still loved her.
We’ve all had that one love that drove us a bit insane after things ended; we may have driven others to madness after leaving them. But this guy is a certifiable nutcase. He’s just raised the bar for all the batshit crazy exes out there. Couldn’t he have stalked her on Facebook like everyone else, or scrolled repeatedly on his phone to fixate on her photos or re-read her texts again and again and again until he memorized every word, every emoticon, and every time stamp?
Damn. Even after being divorced from his ex-wife in 1990 and not seeing her or their children since, only speaking to her very infrequently, Mustafa feels it’s perfectly justifiable to threaten to bomb everyone on board a commercial flight just to communicate with the love of his life—who clearly does not share his feelings.
The pathology of rejection has always proven a goldmine for plots; the spurned lover is a common trope in literature and film. Yet it’s impossible not to detect a whiff of misogyny in the way the rejected man is portrayed versus the rejected woman.
The rejected man may be a little bit obsessed, yes, but somehow the extreme lengths he goes to prove his love are measured against a different standard compared to women.
Whether it’s the nerd who tries to get the popular girl in school, stalking her relentlessly, memorizing her schedule, familiarizing himself with everything about her, or the defeated, downtrodden father who just wants to see his children, he is viewed with a tinge of sympathy, his actions considered foolhardy, misguidedly romantic, and adorable even.
Case in point: Mustafa. Never mind that hijacking a plane and threatening to detonate a bomb on board while incoherently demanding the release of certain prisoners in an attempt to appear like a legitimate terrorist when all he wanted to do was see his ex-wife is so f*cked up. And never mind that his ex-wife refused to see him because, well, as his actions proved, he’s completely unhinged. During his 15 minutes of deranged fame, one of his hostages, not to mention even EgyptAir flight attendants and a passenger posed for a selfie with him!
Mustafa allegedly told police after his arrest after a five-hour standoff on the tarmac at Larnaca airport, “What’s someone supposed to do when he hasn’t seen his wife and children in 24 years and the Egyptian government won’t let him?”
Oh, the poor man, estranged from his wife and family because the bitch—with the help of the government—won’t let him see them.
It’s not cute, it’s not sweet, and it’s not romantic. It is downright f*cking lock-him-up-in-a-mental-asylum dangerous and demented. For one thing, she is his ex-wife, not his wife. He has no claim to her except in his delusions. For another, if indeed the Egyptian Government wouldn’t let him see her, there must be a good reason why.
As Marina told The Independent, “Most of the media painted a picture of a romantic situation in which a man was trying to reach out to his estranged wife. But that couldn’t be further from the truth, and they would have a different opinion if they knew what he was really like. The seven years I was married to him was the darkest chapter in both mine and my family’s life.”
For a man who seemed so determined to see his family again, Marina said he actually never really cared about them “both when he was in Cyprus and after he left.”
It has since emerged that Mustafa allegedly has a history of drug use and has had several brushes with the law.
But then again, men are supposed to be the masters of the grand gesture. Women boil bunnies but men hijack planes, kidnap kids, blow up restaurants, and spray an entire classroom with bullets, opening fire on innocent people, some of them children, mostly because they couldn’t get laid or they’d been rejected by a woman.
Yeah, men are romantic but women are psychotic? Tell that to the 72 hostages on that EgyptAir flight.
Wiser is the author of Making Love in Spanish, a novel published earlier this year by Anvil Publishing and available in National Book Store and Powerbooks, as well as online. When not assuming her Sasha Fierce alter-ego, she takes on the role of serious journalist and media consultant.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.