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Published on : Friday, August 5, 2016
The police detained a British Muslim lady named Faizah Shaheen at Doncaster Airport on 25th July while she was returning from her honeymoon in Turkey. She was reportedly reading a book entitled ‘Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline’ two weeks ago on a flight, as reported by a cabin-crew member of Thomson Airways.
Shaheen was questioned by the police for at least 15 minutes under Section 7, Terrorism Act. Under this act, the police has the right to detain people on grounds of suspicion about their association with terrorism and other criminal activities.
Faizah Shaheen works in the National Health Service (NHS) and her role makes her attempt to prevent radicalization among young mental health patients. She said that she was completely innocent and yet was made to resemble a culprit. She added that she was clueless about how reading a book could make people believe that she was a suspect. Shaheen has told the police that it was completely unacceptable and that she is sure that she would not be on the receiving end of such a treatment if she were not a Muslim.
Several free-speech groups have condemned such a move by the police authorities.
The book that she was reading contains a collections of writings on challenging violence in Syria and it had been published in the year 2014 by British imprint Saqi books. The author Al Kennedy and musician Brian Eno has offered positive reviews of this book.
Jo Glanville, director, English PEN said that Thomson Airways should be embarrassed about misjudging the British Muslim lady.
He said that currently, even the matter that is read by people is likely to be suspected for terrorist activity and there is no freedom to read a book.
Zaher Omareen, co-editor, Syria Speaks criticized the detention of Shaheen, referring to it as a ‘despicable incident’.
Omareen also added that it is unjustifiable to judge individuals based on their choice of books, language and race.
A spokesperson of Thomson Airways has said that their crew members undergo security awareness training regularly and therefore they have been advised to be vigilant that might have prompted a crew member to share any information with the authorities.