Faizah Shaheen was returning to England from her Turkish honeymoon last week when airport security pulled her out of the line of people waiting to get their passport checked at Doncaster Sheffield Airport in South Yorkshire.
For 15 minutes they questioned the British psychotherapist, who is employed by Britain’s National Health Service, using their powers under the country’s 2000 Terrorism Act, the Guardian reported Thursday. The officers said a Thomson Airways attendant on a previous flight had reported her for “suspicious behavior.”
Her crime? Reading a book about Syria.
“I asked what was going on and they said I had been reported due to a book I was reading and was to be questioned under the Terrorism Act,” Shaheen told the Independent.
She told the paper that she felt targeted for being Muslim.
Shaheen works with teens with mental illness. Part of her job, she said, is to prevent the teens from becoming radicalized.
“I said that to the police,” she said. “I’m actually part of trying to fight radicalization and breaking the stereotypes.”
The book, “Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline,” is a collection of work from more than 50 Syrian artists and writers “who are challenging the culture of violence in Syria.”
Thomson Airways told the Independent that it recognizes that “in this instance Ms. Shaheen may have felt that overcaution had been exercised. However, like all airlines, our crew are trained to report and concerns they may have as a precaution.”
Shaheen intends to make a formal complaint against the airline as well as the law enforcement officers who detained her and reduced her to tears, according to the Independent.
“I was completely innocent. I was made to feel like a culprit,” Shaheen said.
Racial profiling of Muslim fliers has become a familiar pattern, Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told The Post in November. Familiar enough that Muslim people have begun documenting their experiences with religious discrimination on planes using the hashtag #FlyingWhileMuslim.
At least four other people have publicly said airlines discriminated against them because of their race or religion this year.
“The argument is better safe than sorry but, yeah, that only works if you’re not the one being targeted,” Hooper said.