Faizah Shaheen, a British Muslim women, on board a Thompson Airways flight from Turkey to the U.K. was detained after suspicions were raised by cabin crew when they noticed her reading a book on Syrian Art.
Shaheen, a psychotherapist from Leeds, was returning home with her husband from their honeymoon in Turkey. She was detained under the Terrorism Act, although it was all a “gross act of misjudgment” and should not have occurred at all.
The book which rose suspicions was entitled Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline. There was clearly no cause for concern as the award-winning book is a collection of essays, short stories, poems, songs, and photographs from Syrian authors and artists.
Shaheen was distressed by the incident and said that she was unfairly detained.
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett commented on the incident saying that it was “utterly out of order”. She herself has a copy of the very same book which Shaheen was detained on suspicion for reading. The case is an indication of the ongoing problems associated with “Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act,” which states that police are entitled to detain with no grounds for suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities.
The detaining of Shaheen has been described by Jo Glanville, Director of English PEN, a human rights association, as “deeply disturbing.” Glanville further commented by stating that the airline should be “highly embarrassed about this gross act of misjudgment.”
There are so much fear and anxiety surrounding terror extremists that it is now at a point where even reading a book is seen as grounds for suspicion in terrorism.
Zaher Omareen, co-editor, of Syria Speaks, said that it is totally unacceptable to judge others and take action against them simply based on their race, the way they look, their language, or in this case, the books they read. Omareen said that such an incident is unjustifiable, and we should learn from this to ensure that this does not happen again.
Shaheen is set to lay formal complaints against both the police and Thomson Airways, as she was innocent in the matter and was made to feel like a culprit and didn’t agree that such behavior was acceptable. She doesn’t understand how she could have been suspected of terrorism for something as simple as reading a book, and questions whether or not the incident would have occurred were she not a Muslim.