How to take a flight and not die in the attempt…


After few months of exhaustive work and school, I finally decided to take a vacation with my family and travel to Eastern Canada. It would be a short trip so I packed all what I needed and made sure to strictly follow  the airport rules. As a regular traveler, one must make sure to understand the regulations. After 9/11 airport security has become one of the main concerns of every goverment’s agenda… even of those who have never even experienced a minor attack. Most of these regulations include, no liquids, sharp or metal objects in the cabin; in addition, the mention of the words bomb, terrorist, attack, etc. can get you in big trouble. Thus, I made sure to fulfill these requests and to behave conventionally. My nerviosism rised from the fact that I am a Muslim, and as if that was not enough, I am Latin American. The solely association of terrorrists and drug cartels is especially appealing for airport security officers, who have become more important than any other security staff in the country. Therefore,  wanted to be in the safe side and try not to experience any delays. Well, I  must say I was not lucky at all! My flight was delayed due to an emergency, but the worse part was the security checking. Nothing of what I did was enough to prevent what the female security officer called a “random” security check. It was quite ironic since I was the only non- white person, who on top of everything was wearing a hijab. At the beginning I thought she would pull me asside and scan me with the metal detector machine. Nonetheless, security checks have become less sophisticated and more embarrasing. The lady, who tried to be as nice as possible, pulled me aside and asked me to lift my right arm, then the left one, etc. while she touched every part of my body with her glove-covered hands. She checked me for over 15 minutes and then she told me she needed to get her hand under my scarf since she needed to know what was underneath the piece of cloth. I knew it would not be very smart to argue with her, but after all the pocking, I felt really humiliated. People would go round me, staring at me and many of the guards were around me, as if they were expecting an imminent threat. After the woman finished checking my hair and unmaking the hair style that I had tried to carefully keep under my hijab, she checked my boarding pass. Her face drastically changed when she saw a non-Muslim name writen on it, and then the question came… ‘How come you are Muslim?’, and my answer was, ‘How come my religion is of your concern?’… the answer was obvious, but we are in Canada, and it is a human rights violation to ask these questions; therefore, she just said she was curious. Then she told me that the Phillipines must be really warm… I was confused, I have never been in the Phillipines, and I said so. Then , she was confused, who else could be Muslim and have a Spanish name?… Well, I don’t know! so I just asked her if she needed anything else from me because she had not found anything suspicious and she was delaying me. Then, she responded, ‘you can go, I was just curious’. Maybe hers was genuine curiosity, but I felt threatened. The same way many people feels threatened when they see us covering our hair, we feel threatened by the way we are treated while we are not guilty of anything. Some people has told me that it must be in that way because our people has decided to threaten security and to kill civilians; nonetheless, I ask, how many civilians have been killed by Christians, Jews, Buddhist, Atheists, Hindus, etc.? Millions! The thing is that the West has gotten a new enemy, and it is discriminating against those who “look” like Arabs (although Arabs do not mean Muslims or even Middle Easterns), or against those who relate to Islam (which is the second biggest religion in the world). However, in many cases the women are the ones that have to deal with this burden. As I listen once from a friend “we, women, carry Islam in our sleeves.” We do not need to be hijabis, and by now security airports know that. We do not need to be Arabs or Africans, I have even heard that white Muslims are treated badly as well and are accused of treason. We are not safe neither from ultra conservative Muslims, nor from Western liberal people. Liberals, who supposedly defend free choice, freedom of religion and many things more, see us as a threat. However, it  is not safe to say anything against the system. Many people has been stopped, sent to jail and been harrassed for defending the innocence of most Muslims. So, as embarrasing as it is, if we want to be safe we must cooperate while making the statement of our innocence and non-affiliation to conservatives in either party, Muslim or secular.

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