A California girl who plays for the U.S. Squash team was forced by Air Canada airline officials to remove her hijab at San Francisco International Airport.
According to the Daily Mail, Fatima Abdelrahman of Santa Clara was stopped by Air Canada employees on August 1 before boarding her flight to Toronto for a tournament. The employees told Abdelrahman to take off her hijab because she was not wearing it in her passport photo despite being checked by TSA security. She requested a private screening room but employees refused to respect her wishes and forced her to remove the hijab, exposing her hair.
“The Air Canada agent looked at my picture, looked at me, and said “These don’t connect. You need to take it off,” (as) he pointed at (my hijab). I said, “No, I can’t.” He said, “No, you need to!” I said, “No, I can’t, religious purposes,”
She wears the hijab in observance of her religion and to cover herself from men who are not her relatives.
‘So I quickly took it off, didn’t really know what to do. All my teammates had passed, my coach had passed. I had no idea I was alone. So I quickly took it off. She barely glanced (at the passport) and then up at me. And said “Ok, hurry up! Hurry up! Go grab your stuff!”‘
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Her story went viral after her older sister, Sabreen, went on Twitter and shamed Air Canada for violating her sister’s rights.
“@AirCanada pls explain why you pulled aside my 12yr old sister for flight 758 making her take off her hijab AT THE GATE?? AFTER she passed security?? Thnx for ruining her experience as the first U.S. National Team Squash player in Hijab + her first time traveling alone”
Air Canada issued an apology after the tweet went viral and asked for the now 13-year-old’s flight information. A complaint was filed by the San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations stating the employees violated state and federal laws.
“We are truly sorry to hear about this situation and we certainly understand your concerns’ and asked for Fatima’s flight details.”
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