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Swedish airport security forcibly removes woman’s hijab in public

25th Apr 2014

Swedish airport security forcibly removes woman’s hijab in public

Elham Asaad Buaras

A Hijab wearing Swedish woman claims security staff Arvidsjaur northern airport tugged on her hijab in public rather than take up her offer to remove it in private.

After the metal detector beeped, Saama Sarsour was asked to remove the hijab. She responded by asking if the guard could first scan the rest of her body and if she could remove her scarf in a different room, not in public. “Then the woman grabbed the scarf and started yanking it,” said Sarsour. “I was totally shocked.”

Sarsour, who works for the social security agency Skatteverket, and her employer decided to report the female guard to the police, who quickly decided not to open an investigation into harassment.

Airport CEO Ralf Lundberg dodged the question of whether his staff had been taught about religious consideration. “They did their job. All have gone through thorough education and training to make sure no one takes dangerous objects through security.”

The biggest airport company in Sweden, Swedavia, said it was run-of-the mill to frisk passengers in private, however. “It says in the penal code that frisking should take place in seclusion, that’s why we have separate rooms for this,” said spokesman Klas Nilsson.

Aviation expert Annika Ramstedt said airport staff were free to be flexible and respond to customer’s wishes as long as it was within the rules. “If a passenger has special requirements there is obviously room for some adjustment.”

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