British Muslim woman detained under terror laws at Doncaster airport for reading Syrian art book

A Muslim NHS worker has been detained and questioned under terror laws  at Doncaster's Robin Hood airport  after a cabin crew member spotted her reading a Syrian culture book on board her honeymoon flight.
A Muslim NHS worker has been detained and questioned under terror laws at Doncaster's Robin Hood airport after a cabin crew member spotted her reading a Syrian culture book on board her honeymoon flight.

A Muslim NHS worker has been detained and questioned under terror laws at Doncaster's Robin Hood airport after a cabin crew member spotted her reading a Syrian culture book on board her honeymoon flight.

Faizah Shaheen, was returning from honeymoon in Marmaris, Turkey when she was stopped by South Yorkshire Police at Doncaster Airport on July 25.

The 27-year-old, who helps prevent teen mental health patients from becoming radicalised in her role with the NHS, was pulled over because a Thomson Airways cabin crew member on her outbound flight a fortnight earlier had reported her for suspicious behaviour.

Officers from South Yorkshire Police questioned her for 15 minutes under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act.

They told her the suspicions related to the holiday book she had been reading, entitled: 'Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline'.

Speaking to The Independent, Faizah said she had been left angry and in tears by the experience – and with a feeling she had been discriminated because of her faith.

Faizah, of Leeds, says she now intends to make formal complaints against the police and Thomson Airways.

She added: “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 was given an information leaflet explaining that Schedule 7 legislation is used by police to determine whether a person appears to be or has been involved in terrorism.

“I was asked what I do. I told them I work as a child and adolescent mental health services practitioner for the NHS.

“Ironically, a part of my job role is working on anti-radicalisation and assessing vulnerable young people with mental health problems are at risk of being radicalised.

“I said that to the police. I’m actually part of trying to fight radicalisation and breaking the stereotypes.

"“It was a very hurtful experience to go through,” she said. “I fight for different causes and then to be victimised and experience this first-hand and made me realise how bad it is.

“Instead of reminiscing about our honeymoon I am left talking about this experience.

“I do question if whether it would be different if it was someone who wasn’t Muslim.”

A spokesman for South Yorkshire Police said: “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 fifteen minutes and was subsequently released.”

A spokesman for Thomson Airlines said: “The safety of our customers and employees is of primary importance and 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.

"We appreciate that in this instance Ms Shaneen may have felt that over caution had been exercised, however like all airlines, our crew are trained to report any concerns they may have as a precaution.”