Home / Business / Air Canada workers forced athletes, 12, to remove hijab at SFO, the complaint says

Air Canada workers forced athletes, 12, to remove hijab at SFO, the complaint says



The Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is suing Air Canada employees who were discriminated against a 12-year-old national squash player by forcing her to remove her hijab in the middle of a lively tunnel at San Francisco International Airport in August.

After passing the Transportation Security Administration's security screening with her squash teammates without incident on August 1, Bayima settler Fatima Abdelrahman was stopped by an Air Canada employee while trying to board her flight en route to Toronto's Pearson International Airport for an international tournament, according to a complaint addressed to officials in Air Canada on Friday.

Employees, according to the complaint, demanded that she remove her hijab because it was part of their identification procedure. Another two employees told Fatima that she needed to remove it because she did not have it in her passport photo.

"Scared and worried," the complaint says, Fatima told them she wears a hijab because her "sincere religious faith as a practicing Muslim" allows her to choose to cover herself before men who are not relatives and in public. [1

9659003] She asked if she could remove it in a private screening area in front of female agents in Air Canada, but the complaint says employees refused and led her instead to a tunnel where travelers boarded a flight and forced her to remove her hijab with the intention of on passing strangers.

"This experience not only went against Fatima's reasonable request to be able to follow her religious beliefs but also left her feeling angry and humiliated," the complaint states.

Air Canada officials could not be reached for comment.

The Council requests financial damages for Fatima's emotional injury tress, formal remarks to the Air Canada employees involved, skills training for all employees, a written apology and copies of Air Canada's current anti-discrimination policy and its past and current identity disclosure policy.

The complaint alleges that Air Canada violated US anti-discrimination laws. and probably also violations of Canada law. It also claims that Air Canada failed to address Fatima's discomfort until after her older sister, Sabreen Abdelrahman, complained about the incident on Twitter.

Air Canada responded to Sabreen Abdelrahman's public tweet saying, "We are really sorry to hear about this situation and we really understand your concerns," and asked for Fatima's booking information to follow up.


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