Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 July 2019

Muslim woman detained for reading Syria art book on plane to sue

Faizah Shaheen was returning from her honeymoon in Turkey when she was questioned by counter-terrorism police.

Faizah Shaheen was reported by a cabin crew member who believed she was reading a "Syrian phrase book".
Faizah Shaheen was reported by a cabin crew member who believed she was reading a "Syrian phrase book".

A Muslim woman, who was detained after reading a book about Syrian art on a return flight from Turkey, is planning to sue the travel company involved.

Faizah Shaheen, a mental health practitioner from Leeds, West Yorkshire, caught the attention of Thomson Airways' cabin crew members on her outbound flight to her honeymoon in July 2016.

Ms Shaheen was met by counter-terrorism police on her return flight home two weeks later at Doncaster Airport who questioned her for around 30 minutes under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act.

It later emerged that she had been reported by a cabin crew member who believed she had been reading a "Syrian phrase book", despite the fact that Syrian as a language does not exist.

Ms Shaheen, who describes herself as a community artist and writer on her Twitter bio, was in fact reading Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline.

The 28-year-old has since set up an online donations page to raise money to pay for her legal representation on the site CrowdJustice.

She has said she has been forced to take such action after Thomson Airways failed to apologise for what had happened.

"This was a humiliating experience for me, tarnishing my honeymoon. I simply want an apology from Thomson Airways as recognition of their error and to ensure that it never happens again. Instead, Thomson Airways has failed to address my complaint," she wrote on the page.

"I am surprised that they have taken such an attitude when all I have asked for is an apology."

She is now seeking a court declaration that she was discriminated against under the Equality Act.

Thomson has said that it has written to Ms Shaheen explaining that staff members are encouraged to report information to authorities as part of their general safety and security awareness training.

In a statement the airline said: "We're really sorry if Ms Shaheen remains unhappy with how she feels she was treated.

"We wrote to her to explain that our crew undergo general safety and security awareness training on a regular basis. As part of this they are encouraged to be vigilant and share any information or questions with the relevant authorities, who would then act as appropriate."

Updated: July 24, 2017 05:38 PM