A 27-year-old Muslim NHS employee – Faizah Shaheen – was detained at the Doncaster Airport, UK, after a Thomson Airways cabin crew member saw her reading a Syrian art book – Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline. The police questioned the British Muslim woman for 15 minutes under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act and told her the suspicions related to the book.
The book by Malu Halasa is a compilation of short stories, poems, essays, songs, photographs and cartoons by Syrian artists and writers.
According to an Independent report, Shaheen, who is a child and adolescent mental health practitioner for the NHS, was returning from her honeymoon in Marmaris, Turkey, when South Yorkshire Police stopped her at the airport on 25 July.
Shaheen, who is from Leeds, said she felt angry and discriminated against because of her faith. She told Independent that she intends to make complaints against police and the airline. She said, "I was completely innocent – I was made to feel like a culprit.
"I was queuing at passport control and saw police staring at me. I just got through passport control and then two police officers approached me and took me aside and asked me to show my passport again.
"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. I became very angry and upset. 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."
She added that part of her job was to work on anti-radicalisation and evaluating young people's mental health problems, who are at risk of being radicalised. "I do question if whether it would be different if it was someone who wasn't Muslim." Shaheen said.
Meanwhile, Thomson Airways issued a statement which read: "We appreciate that in this instance Ms Shaheen may have felt that overcaution had been exercised. However, like all airlines, our crew are trained to report any concerns they may have as a precaution."
A spokesperson for South Yorkshire police told Independent, "On 25 July, 2016, officers from South Yorkshire Police stopped and examined a woman under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 at Doncaster Airport. She was not arrested, she was held for 15 minutes and was subsequently released."