Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Malu Halasa

British Muslim woman detained under terror laws:

Cabin crew report her reading Syrian art book on plane

On her honeymoon flight

Questioned under the Terrorism Act

Exclusive: Airline urged to apologise after honeymooner ‘made to feel like a culprit’

A Muslim NHS worker was detained at a UK airport and questioned under terror laws after a cabin crew member spotted her reading a Syrian culture book on board her honeymoon flight.

Faizah Shaheen, who helps prevent teenage mental health patients from becoming radicalised, was returning from honeymoon in Marmaris, Turkey, when she was stopped by South Yorkshire Police at Doncaster Airport on 25 July.


Faziah Shaheen was quizzed under terror laws after Thomson Airways cabin crew saw her reading a book about Syrian art on her honeymoon flight

The 27-year-old was pulled over because a Thomson Airways cabin crew member on her outbound flight a fortnight earlier had reported her for suspicious behavior.

Police officers questioned her for 15 minutes under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act and told her the suspicions related to the holiday book she had been reading – Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline.

The award-winning book by Malu Halasa is a collection of essays, short stories, poems, songs, cartoons and photographs from Syrian authors and artists.

Ms Shaheen, from Leeds, said she was left angry and in tears by the experience – and with a feeling she had been discriminated because of her faith.

She said she now intends to make formal complaints against the police and Thomson Airways.

She said: “I was completely innocent – I was made to feel like a culprit.”

Recalling the incident, she said: “I was queuing at passport control and saw police staring at me. I just got through passport control and then two police officers approached me and took me aside and asked me to show my passport again.

“I asked what was going on and they said I had been reported due to a book I was reading and was to be questioned under the Terrorism Act.

“I became very angry and upset. I couldn’t understand how reading a book could cause people to suspect me like this. I told the police that I didn’t think it was right or acceptable.”

She was given an information leaflet explaining that Schedule 7 legislation is used by police to determine whether a person appears to be or has been involved in terrorism.

“I was asked what I do,” she said. “I told them I work as a child and adolescent mental health services practitioner for the NHS.

“Ironically, a part of my job role is working on anti-radicalisation and assessing vulnerable young people with mental health problems are at risk of being radicalised.

“I said that to the police. I’m actually part of trying to fight radicalisation and breaking the stereotypes.

“It was a very hurtful experience to go through,” she said. “I fight for different causes and then to be victimised and experience this first-hand and made me realise how bad it is.

“Instead of reminiscing about our honeymoon I am left talking about this experience.

“I do question if whether it would be different if it was someone who wasn’t Muslim.”

The book she was reading was the winner of an English PEN award. Ms Shaheen bought it after it was recommended to her at Bradford literature festival in May.

Labour MP Keith Vaz, who chairs the Home Affairs Committee, said the airline had overreacted. (overreacted?)

He said: “In the current climate people are worried. But there is always a balance to be struck in circumstances of this kind. We want the public to report suspicious activity.

“Reasonable people would not regard reading a book on Syria on its own, without any other concerns, as warranting the questioning of an individual. Thomson Airways should accept that a mistake was made and apologise to the woman concerned. I am sure if they had done so there would have been a better understanding of the entire situation.” (Cabin crew Not reasonable people?)


The award-winning ‘Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline’ by Malu Halasa

Thomson Airways said its crew are compelled to report any concerns as a precaution, but it understood Ms Shaheen’s frustration.

A spokesman said in a statement: “Our crew undergo general safety and security awareness training on a regular basis. As part of this they are encouraged to be vigilant and share any information or questions with the relevant authorities.

“We appreciate that in this instance Ms Shaheen may have felt that overcaution had been exercised. However, like all airlines, our crew are trained to report any concerns they may have as a precaution.“

A spokeswoman for South Yorkshire Police said: “On 25 July, 2016, officers from South Yorkshire Police stopped and examined a woman under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 at Doncaster Airport.

“She was not arrested, she was held for 15 minutes and was subsequently released.”

Who is Malu Halasa? Publication design? The Mosaic Rooms conducted an interview…

The Mosaic Rooms posted this Sept. 13, 2013

Q&A with author, writer, editor and curator Malu Halasa

Malu Halasa will be in conversation with Nicolas Bellavance-Lecompte, co-founder of Carwan Gallery and Lebanese designer, Najla El Zein on Saturday 14 September, 12pm at The Mosaic Rooms. FREE,

1/ What Middle Eastern design are you looking at?

Because I write and produce books that have a visual component to them, I’m very interested in publications design from the region. Dar Onboz produces a wide range of material from children’s books to flip books, films, music, and shadow puppet plays.

It is a cornucopia of compelling innovative design. Pascal Zoghbi is an Arabic typographer and graphic designer at the studio 29 Letters who has co-edited groundbreaking books such as Arabic Graffiti.

There is the multidisciplinary design team from Solidere, under the creative direction of Nathalie El Mir, the group behind the biannual urbanist and architectural journal I was working for, in Beirut, Portal 9: Stories and Critical Writing about the City, edited by Fadi Tofeili.

I also always keep up with the projects of my co-editor of The Secret Life of Syrian LingerieRana Salam. She was instrumental in teaching me how to ‘read’ the Arab street.


Cornucopia of compelling design by Lebanese publishers, artists and musicians Dar Onboz.

Their book Saba’a w 7, with illustrations by Fadi Adleh and story by Nadine Touma, was turned into a shadow puppet play in collaboration with Collectif Kahraba.

2/ You have a varied working life as an author, writer, editor and curator, what is the current project that you are working on?

With my two co-editors/co-curators Aram Tahhan and Nawara Mahfoud, I am presently finishing Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline, an anthology of art and writing from the Syrian uprising.

The book features cartoons, comic strips, art and photography alongside critical essays, and literature. Our contributors include writers Khaled Khalifa, Samer Yazbek, Yassin El Haj Saleh, Hassan Abbas, Yara Badr, Rasha Omran, and Ali Safar and artists Ali Ferzat, Masasit Mati, Alshaab Alsori Aref Tarekh, Youseff Abdelki, Khalil Younes, and Sulafa Hijazi, among many others

Syria Speaks came out of the exhibitions of Syrian uprising art that the three of us did in 2012-13 in Amsterdam, Copenhagen and London. The book, which will be published next year, is supported by the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development, in Amsterdam.


Syria Speaks will be published in English by Saqi Books in London and in Arabic by Dar Saqi in Beirut, next year.

Cover design by James Nunn showing an image from a political poster by the anonymous Syrian artists collective Alshaab Alsori Aref Tarekh.

3/ Beirut has been described as ‘the Berlin of the Middle East’ by the two founders of Carwan Gallery, what similarities do you see?

Despite the political upheavals in Lebanon and on its borders, creatives in Beirut keep producing.

Sivine Ariss from Dar Onboz just explained to me over skype now, “Our work is our resistance.

In many ways Beirut is not like Berlin. But like Berlin, Beirut supports its artists and designers by nourishing them culturally. Through these imaginative interactions with Arab culture – story telling and the oral tradition, and and with materials and the history of making in the region, Ariss and others provide new understanding not just about another place but life as it is lived now. Their work has meaning for us all.




February 2023

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