Profiling

Muslim woman detained at U.K. airport for reading a book on Syria

Faizah Shaheen (Twitter)

Faizah Shaheen, a 27-year-old British Muslim woman who was returning from her honeymoon in Turkey, was detained at a British airport after a cabin crew member on her flight had reported her for suspicious behavior. Her “offense,” according to the crew member? Reading a book on Syrian culture (the award-winning Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline by Malu Halasa). Shaheen, who works for the National Health Services, preventing teenage mental health patients from radicalizing, was stopped at passport control by police officers. “I became very angry and upset,” she recalled about the experience. “I couldn’t understand how reading a book could cause people to suspect me like this. I told the police that I didn’t think it was right or acceptable.”

Shaheen said she felt discriminated against because of her faith and plans to lodge a formal complaint against the airline, Thomson Airways. “Ironically, a part of my job role is working on anti-radicalization and assessing vulnerable young people with mental health problems are at risk of being radicalised. I said that to the police. I’m actually part of trying to fight radicalisation and breaking the stereotypes,” she added.  “It was a very hurtful experience to go through.” A spokesperson for the airline responded that while they understood Shaheen’s frustrations, their crew undergo general safety and security awareness training, and are taught to “report any concerns they may have as a precaution.” South Yorkshire police confirmed that Shaheen had been stopped under the Terrorism Act, stressing that she was “not arrested, she was held for 15 minutes and was subsequently released.”

Read the full story at The Independent.

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