Canada's biggest air carrier has become the latest to come under fire after allegedly forcing a 12-year-old girl to remove her headscarf citing "security reasons". The incident has sparked major backlash on social media.
An Air Canada employee who was identified as a flight manager pulled Fatima Abdelrahman, a Muslim player on the U.S.' Squash Team, aside and forced her to remove her hijab at the gate, during the team's flight to Toronto from San Francisco on Aug. 1.
"The person at the gate asked me to take my headscarf off even though I had already passed security and they had checked my passport," Abdelrahman told Canadian media.
Stating that she requested an empty room after the staff insisted upon removing her headscarf, Abdelrahman said they instead "took her to a corner" and forced her to "quickly take off her headscarf."
The incident came to the fore only after her sister Sabreen Abdelrahman shared her account of the incident on social media.
"@AirCanada pls explain why you pulled aside my 12yr old sister for flight 758 making her take off her hijab AT THE GATE?? AFTER she already passed security?? Thx for ruining her experience as the first U.S. National Team Squash player in Hijab + her first time traveling alone," her sister wrote on Twitter.
After the incident went viral, social media users shared messages of support for the squash player, accusing the Canadian airline of being prejudiced, while the company tried to reach out and apologize via a reply tweet.
"Hello Sabreen, we are truly sorry to hear about this situation, and we certainly understand your concerns. May you, please DM us your daughter's booking reference so we can better follow-up?" it said.
However, the airline seemed to have confused who was who, calling Fatima Sabreen's daughter, which sparked another storm of tweets.