Elin Ersson was headed to Istanbul from Gothenburg Tuesday, and as she boarded and prepared for the plane's takeoff, she noticed a man sitting in the back of the plane. Deducing that this 52-year-old refugee from Afghanistan was being deported from Sweden back to his home country, Ersson objected and leapt into action.
Since planes cannot take off until everyone is seated and safely buckled into their seats, Ersson halted the deportation in its tracks by taking to the aisle and refusing to sit again until the man was removed from the plane. She filmed the entire episode on her phone.
"Right now I'm at the airport in the airplane, and there is a person getting deported to Afghanistan, and the people working here are trying to take my phone away from me and try to forcibly move me," she says in the 14-minute-long video. "In Afghanistan there is war, and this man faces death… I'm just trying to save his life… All I want to do is to stop his deportation. As long as I stand and if hopefully more people get up, the pilot can not take off."
As she urged other passengers into action, some ignored her, others derided her — and some joined her. In the video, Ersson is confronted by both passengers and crew members, especially a British man who tries to take the phone from her. However, a Turkish man eventually joins her protest, as does a soccer team.
"These are the rules of your country," one passenger yells at her. She replies, "Yes, and I try to change those rules. It's not okay to send people to hell."
By the end of the video, the Afghan man has been removed from the plane, and Ersson has also been escorted off.
Errson later said that the man's deportation was cancelled, Freedom News reported.
As news of the young woman's audacity has spread, the hashtag #ElinErsson is being used to by people the world over to shower her with praise for her bravery — and to vent their frustrations at her obstinacy.
We need more heros like #ElinErsson. Standing up against what is wrong.— Kai Bittner (@kai_the24th) July 24, 2018
Humanity is alive and kicking and her name is Elin Ersson!— DAC (@BeardMouse) July 24, 2018
If her courage doesn't light a fire under you I don't know what will. If we say nothing and do nothing we're complicit.
If only we could all be like #elinersson— Chinook & Co. (@ChinookandCo) July 24, 2018
this woman is a hero, she basically stops a deportation almost single-handedly by just being stubborn and sticking to her guns (“I disagree with the law! I’m trying to change this law!”). So inspiring (and also this video made me bawl) #ElinErsson https://t.co/5HwWX3WDjL— follow back pro stitute (@pastachips) July 24, 2018
However, some feared that she would reap what she had sown by violating her country's laws.
#elinersson watched too much pippi longstocking? Don't care about laws and police just do whatever you like… So, don't like to sit on a plane… Like a stupid kid.. damn, put her in jail for obstruction of justice— Music Dude 2 (@MusicDude2020) July 24, 2018
Våra myndigheter är lealösa syltryggar, idioter som #ElinErsson vill uppenbarligen ha anarki och det kommer hon få.— Sviken borgare 🇸🇪 tänker rösta MED (@mydlystrgl) July 24, 2018
Hon sår vind och kommer få skörda storm. @svt med flera samhällsförstörande organisationer kommer garanterat göra idolporträtt om denna fittmössa, ingen styr. https://t.co/b7MRpCgzWq