Canada: Despite clearing security at San Francisco International Airport, a preteen was allegedly forced to remove her hijab in public by Air Canada employees, followed by an American Muslim advocacy group now seeking damages.
Filing the complaint, the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations asked the airline to implement “immediate policy changes prohibiting discrimination and harassment of Air Canada customers based on their purported race, national origin, and religion amongst others,” CAIR-SFBA said it wants Air Canada to institute cultural competency training for all employees, Huffingtonpost reports.
The CAIR has demanded the Airline to award monetary damages for the emotional distress inflicted on 13-year-old Fatima Abdelrahman who hails from Santa Clara, California.
Ammad W. Rafiqi, CAIR-SFBA’s legal services coordinator has accused the Air Canada’s employees of discriminating Abdelrahman on religious belief who was only 12 years old at the time of incident leaving her “angry and humiliated,” as she was travelling without her family for the first time.
“It is deeply troubling that Air Canada agents and employees would participate in such an incident,” said Rafiqi who is representing Abdelrahman.
According to reports, the victim Fatima Abdelrahman is a 13-year-old U.S. national junior squash team player en route to participate in an international tournament in Toronto along with her teammates on 1 August.
Though the teen had no issues passing through the TSA’s security screening at San Francisco International Airport, when the team started boarding, a male Air Canada gate agent approached Abdelrahman and demanded she removes her hijab since she was not wearing one in her passport.
While she was in the middle of explaining to the agent that she wears the hijab because of her religious beliefs, another two additional Air Canada employees reiterated that she needed to comply with the request in order to board.
“Scared and worried” by the demands, the girl gave in to the demand and requested for a closed, private screening area so that she could remove her hijab exclusively in the presence of female Air Canada agents but the agents refused to do so and instead took the girl to a nearby tunnel where other passengers were entering the plane.
“It’s wrong and I don’t think anyone wearing any type of religious headpiece or any type of religious clothing at all should go through a selective type of discrimination,” Abdelrahman said in August after returning from the tournament.
The Airline contacted the family when Abdelrahman’s sister took to twitter to report the incident.
“The Abdelrahman family and ourselves as her legal representatives will be looking to escalate the complaint by exploring options including filing a lawsuit,” Rafiqi said in an email.