When my one-year-old daughter was selected for a secondary security check in London, it brought it home to me how targeted these security measures can be.
As one passenger after another passes through security at London’s Heathrow Airport, that resounding noise that occurs, randomly selecting people to complete a second stage security check.
I complied as you do and as I’ve done many times before, but this time it was different.
Just went through @MPSHeathrow and was treated as though I was some sort of suspect! Swabbed in every way possible my 1 year old having to go through a patting down and additional security. ‘Random checks’ I highly doubt that. Funny how the one, brown visibly Muslim 1/4— Yasmin Khatun Dewan (@Yasm1nK) June 9, 2019
Everyone passing through is doing the same thing. The problem is when additional security checks claim to be selecting at random but the vast majority of people chosen fit into particular groups, it doesn’t quite add up. It just so happens that as I scanned the security aisles on Sunday; the only other person I saw go through additional security happened to be a Muslim man while so many others breezed past.
At least 200,000 people use Heathrow Airport every day, but every single time I travel, either my husband or I am stopped for additional security checks. I had become used to it, but then it happened to my one-year-old it makes me wonder how it might have made her feel and how it will continue to impact her if such seemingly discriminatory practices continue to be implemented. I’d like to see the statistics on the selection criteria, but I have little doubt this will ever be made public.
This isn’t just a problem in the UK but a Europe-wide one. As we flew to Istanbul, Turkey’s national football team landed in Iceland’s Keflavik Airport, where they were held for more than three hours in a shocking episode that can only be attributed to Islamophobia.
After I took to Twitter to share my outrage over the treatment I faced at Heathrow, former BBC journalist Saima Mir shared her experience of travelling to Helsinki where she was stopped for additional security checks at every stage while her non-Muslim companion was ignored throughout.
😡😡😡— A'ish (@Chordiegurl) June 10, 2019
This makes me so mad. My 2 year old was patted down on the way to Germany. How on earth is that okay?!!!
My daughter was born in London two weeks after Prince Louis of Cambridge. But such is the depth of inequality in the UK that just a day after we saw the nation’s young prince carried by his parents on the balcony of Buckingham Palace to celebrate the Trooping of the Colour (Her Majesty’s official birthday celebration) my one-year-old daughter had to go through additional security checks which saw her patted down and scanned while I carried her through Heathrow Airport to board our flight.
As a British national flying through my own country, I don’t expect to be treated like a criminal just because we live in a post 9/11 world. We have rights and privileges that are due to us as citizens of our nations. I know there are security risks at airports and don’t flinch when my baby’s food is tested or when I put my moisturiser in a clear bag.
I travelled to Helsinki with @LesleyMcEvoy20 a few years back. They always let Lesley through but would stop me. It was awful. Made me feel as if I'd done something wrong.— Saima Mir (@SaimaMir) June 10, 2019
Many others also shared their experiences, highlighting what can only be seen as disproportionality in the carrying out of such policies. If the security situation requires such measures, they need to be carried out indiscriminately, without the creation of suspect communities.
You might say why the outrage? It’s because I expect more. Islamophobia is a growing problem in a number of European nations, but governments need to ensure they raise their standards to dissolve discriminatory practices and set a standard for their societies at large.
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