Detained for Reading: Anti-Terror Police at UK Airport Question Muslim Woman Over Award-Winning Book (Video)
On July 25, the South Yorkshire Police stopped Muslim health worker Faizah Shaheen (27) at Doncaster Airport in Finningley, England. Shaheen was then detained and questioned under UK terror laws, which left her in tears.
What was she doing that raised suspicion? Reading.
As Shaheen boarded her honeymoon flight, a Thomson Airways cabin crew member spotted the Leeds resident with a Syrian culture book — and reported her to the authorities.
"Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline" received an English PEN award in 2013. But getting caught with the anthology was enough to cause suspicion of Shaheen, according to more recent legislation.
“I was completely innocent – I was made to feel like a culprit," Shaheen told the Independent. "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.”
During the interrogation, police asked Shaheen what she did for a living.
"I told them I work as a child and adolescent mental health services practitioner for the National Health Service," she said. "Ironically, a part of my job role is working on anti-radicalization and assessing if vulnerable young people with mental health problems are at risk of being radicalized. I said that to the police. I’m actually part of trying to fight radicalisation and breaking the stereotypes."
Having now experienced victimization firsthand, Shaheen will be following up with a formal complaint against the police and Thomson Airways regarding the incident.