The tail of the newly revealed Air Canada Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft is seen at a hangar at the Toronto Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, Ont., Thursday, February 9, 2017. Air Canada says its deal to acquire travel company Transat A.T. Inc. has cleared another hurdle. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

Air Canada forced girl, 12, to remove hijab: civil rights group

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations calling for change

A Muslim civil rights advocacy group is demanding changes at Air Canada after a 12-year-old U.S. Squash Team player says she was forced to remove her hijab while boarding at San Francisco International Airport.

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said in a letter sent Friday that federal and state laws were violated when an Air Canada gate agent demanded that Fatima Abdelrahman remove her religious head covering.

Abdelrahman requested a private area so she could remove her headscarf in private and in the exclusive presence of female Air Canada agents, but the council says airline employees refused.

The advocacy group is seeking the airline order cultural competency training for employees and policy changes prohibiting discrimination. It wants monetary damages for emotional distress, a formal written apology, and reprimand of employees involved.

ALSO READ: Air Canada adjusted earnings soar above estimate, revenue up in each segment

Abdelrahman was travelling Aug. 1 to Toronto with her team for an international tournament and had had no issues with TSA’s security screening.

“This experience not only went against Ms. Fatima’s reasonable request to be able to adhere to her religious beliefs but also left her feeling angry and humiliated,” wrote Ammad Rafiqi, a civil rights and legal services co-ordinator at the CAIR-SFBA.

The exchange became public when Abdelrahman’s older sister complained about the incident on Twitter.

Air Canada did not respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment Friday.

In its letter, CAIR-SFBA says that an Air Canada customer service manager emailed the Abdelrahman family Aug. 19 to say the airline had updated its boarding policies so agents need not remove religious head coverings in order to conduct identity screenings.

The response, however, did not address the emotional distress inflicted on Abdelrahman or violations of anti-discrimination laws, the organization said.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Oak Bay cyclist runner-up in Spanish stage race

Adam de Vos on podium amongst World Tour best in Spain

SD62 asks Colwood to help fund crossing guard at Wishart Elementary

‘We’re just overly congested,’ says PAC president

Saanich Police respond to petition for new police agency on Lindsay Buziak murder case

Petition asks Public Safety Minister to to help find justice for slain realtor

Unrelated occupancy limits creating divisions in Saanich

Gordon Head Residents’ Association wants to see conditions to hold landlords accountable

Greater Victoria has Canada’s sixth-highest ‘moving penalty’

Disparity between vacant/occupied units incentivizes renovictions and reduces mobility, researcher says

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Feb. 18

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support the proposed changes for ICBC?

Tuesday’s provincial budget predicted a shift from shortfall to surplus in wake… Continue reading

RCMP clarifies stance on removing officers from Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C.

Police say will remove officers only if hereditary chiefs keep road open to pipeline workers

B.C., Ottawa sign sweeping 30-year deal for northern caribou habitat

West Moberly, Saulteau co-manage new protection on two million acres

Suspect at large after stealing seaplane before crashing into another in Vancouver

Police responded to the incident at 3:30 a.m. on Friday at Vancouver Harbour

PHOTOS: 2020 BC Winter Games kick off in Fort St. John

More than 1,000 of B.C.’s best athletes will be competing over the next three days

Most Read