CAIRO – A Swedish Muslim woman has reported falling under attack after a security staff working at a small northern airport pulled her hijab, forcing her to remove it in public.
“The female guard asked me ‘What's on your head’,” Saama Sarsour, a state employee, told the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper about her treatment at Arvidsjaur airport in northern Sweden, The Local reported on Monday, March 31.
Sarsour was at northern Arvidsjaur airport when the metal detector beeped.
After the security asked her to remove her hijab, the state employee offered to remove her scarf in a private room.
“Then the woman grabbed the scarf and started yanking it,” Sarsour recalled how her hijab was removed in front of hundreds of passengers in the airport.
“I was totally shocked.”
After the incident Sarsour, who works for the social security agency Skatteverket, reported the incident to the police.
However, the police refused to investigate the attack as a hate crime.
Muslims make up between 450,000 and 500,000 of Sweden’s nine million people, according to the US State Department report in 2011.
Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.
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Justifying the female guard's anti-Muslim act, Ralf Lundberg, Airport CEO, said, “They did their job.”
“All have gone through thorough education and training to make sure no one takes dangerous objects through security.”
However, the spokesman of Sweden's biggest airport company criticized the guard over her actions.
“It says in the penal code that frisking should take place in seclusion, that's why we have separate rooms for this,” Klas Nilsson, Swedavia‘s spokesman, told SvD.
According to aviation experts, airport staff has permissions to obey passengers' wishes as long as it abides by the rules.
The airport incident is not the first to target Sweden Muslims.
In 2013 alone, around 300 hate crimes against Muslims were reported in the Scandinavian country.
Last January, a Stockholm mosque came under attack when vandals scrawled swastikas on its doors.
In a gesture of solidarity, bouquets of pink and white flowers were taped over the black swastikas on the doors of the central Stockholm mosque.
Another attack was reported in November 2013 when pig's trotters were thrown into a mosque south of Stockholm after shattering windows of its main door.
According to the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention, these incidents were on the rise, forcing many Muslims to abstain from attending prayers at mosques.
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