US Muslim Artist Speaks Out Against Islamophobia After Being Forced Off Aircraft

The artist and writer was on her way to a holiday in Turkey.

Kameelah Rasheed is a conceptual artist, writer and educator. Photo: Al Jazeera

A Muslim American artist has spoken out against Islamophobia after being escorted off an aircraft by the FBI shortly before take-off for questioning at Newark Liberty International Airport.

Kameelah Janan Rasheed was looking forward to a holiday in Istanbul, Turkey before her trip was cut short by authorities. “I was the only visibly Muslim person,” the 30-year-old New Yorker, who wears a headscarf, told Al Jazeera.

Rasheed says FBI agents confiscated her phone and passport and subjected her to a two-and-a-half hour interrogation that has left her afraid of being targeted again. “I honestly feel very traumatized and shaken,” she admitted.

“I think this happened because I’m Muslim, because I’m traveling to Istanbul… [and] because people don’t understand basic geopolitical situations,” she explained.

The artist said officials repeatedly asked her questions which were “circular and nonsensical.” She stressed that “I wasn’t going to the border with Syria. I was going to the tourist locations, to see the Hagia Sophia and take a ferry across the Bosphorus.”

A print from the series by Kameelah Janan Rasheed, "HOW TO SUFFER POLITELY (and Other Etiquette)."

A print from the series by Kameelah Janan Rasheed, “HOW TO SUFFER POLITELY (and Other Etiquette).”

Rasheed is a conceptual artist, educator, writer, and contributing editor to the New Inquiry. She currently has a print show at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Art (MOCADA) in Brooklyn, called, “HOW TO SUFFER POLITELY (and Other Etiquette),” which is on view until January 17, 2016.

“It’s frustrating to me that I can’t fly like a normal human being,” she said. “I’m still very angry and hurt, but I have to temper that with not having expectations for being treated better. I shouldn’t expect any better. This is the militarized state that we have decided to live in.”

According to Al Jazeera, reports of profiling of Muslims in the US has risen since the November 13 attacks on Paris, which were claimed by ISIS.


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