Tuesday, 7 December 2021

British woman detained at airport for reading Syrian art book takes court action


LONDON: Faizah Shaheen, a Muslim woman, is taking her holiday company to court after she was detained and questioned at a UK airport for reading a Syrian art book on board her honeymoon flight.

According to Independent, Shaheen was travelling back from Turkey on August 3, 2016, when she was reported to authorities by Thomson Airways cabin crew. She was questioned in a room along with her husband for 15 minutes at Doncaster Airport under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act.

Shaheen, a mental health worker who helps to prevent radicalisation, had been reading Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline – a collection of literature, photos, songs, and cartoons from Syrian artists and authors.

Her lawyers have told Thomson Airways that she believes she was a victim of discrimination and was singled out because of her race.

During the interrogation, Shaheen said she was asked about the book, her work, and the number of languages she spoke.

“I felt upset and distressed, followed by anger,” she said following the incident. “I struggled to accept that I was being singled out for reading a book on art and culture.”

Shaheen told the BBC‘s Victoria Derbyshire programme that she found Thomson Airways’ response and explanations to the incident insufficient.

“One year on, Thomson Airways has failed to provide an explanation or apology despite legal involvement. This attitude left me with no option but to seek a declaration from the court under the Equality Act,” she said.

ITN solicitor Ravi Naik has acknowledged Thomson Airways’ initial communication but said it had not responded to correspondences since January. “The Equality Act contains strong protections against discriminatory treatment on the basis of someone’s race and religion and for good reason,” he said.

“We have asked the airline to apologise, to which we have never received a meaningful reply.”

Shaheen does not want compensation, but simply “an apology and explanation from Thomson Airways to ensure that it never happens again.”

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