Apparently if you’re a honeymooning British Muslim woman, reading the above book can look suspicious enough to an airplane crew to get you detained. The Independent reports that Faziah Shaheen — who’s employed by Britain’s National Health Service and whose specific job involves working to prevent the radicalization of teens with mental health issues — was detained and questioned under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 after she was spotted reading Syria Speaks: Art and Culture on the Frontline.
Shaheen, 27, was just getting back from her honeymoon — landing in Doncaster Airport after a trip in Marmaris, Turkey and a flight on Thomson Airways — when she was taken aside, allegedly because “suspicious behavior” had been noted by a cabin crew member from her Thomson Airways flight to Turkey two weeks prior. The suspicious behavior in question, she was told, had to do with the book she was reading, a book of stories, essays, cartoons, poems and more that won the English PEN award and that the Independent itself had called, “essential reading for anyone interested in human rights or a better understanding of the current conflict.”
Shaheen claimed to have left after 15 minutes of questioning in tears, and said, “I was completely innocent – I was made to feel like a culprit…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 noted how ironic it sounded describing her job to the police, and telling them that she’s “actually part of trying to fight radicalization and breaking the stereotypes.”
Keith Vaz — a Member of Parliament for the Labour Party — said, “Reasonable people would not regard reading a book on Syria on its own, without any other concerns, as warranting the questioning of an individual. Thomson Airways should accept that a mistake was made and apologize to the woman concerned.”
After having been questioned, Shaheen was luckily not arrested… for reading the book.