A video footage of Italian airport security staff berating a Muslim woman for refusing to remove her headscarf is circulating the internet.
Aghnia Adzkia was going through the security checkpoint Sunday at Ciampino – G.B. Pastine International Airport in Rome when staff told her she had to remove her hijab in order to board her flight to London.
According to her Facebook post, Adzkia wanted the staff to provide legal proof that would require her to remove her hijab.
“I wasn’t prepared to trust them unless they could cite me a law or provide me with a legal document that saying they were authorized to have to check what is underneath of my hijab,” Adzkia wrote. “It is a matter of human dignity and rights. For what reason were they asked me to take off my hijab?”
At many international airports, according to several Muslim women Mic talked to, security officers often pat down the headscarf rather than remove it.
Adzkia, an Indonesian citizen, said a female airport security officer showed her a document written in Italian. But since she doesn’t understand Italian, she asked if her Italian-speaking friend could translate it for her. The officer refused and continued to pressure her to go into a private room to have her hijab removed and checked. However, a spokesman for the airport told Mic that the document, the National Security Programme, was “promptly translated” into English for Adzkia. After attempting to negotiate once more, a female security officer returned and said the reason is because Adzkia — a Muslim woman — could hide explosives in her headscarf.
“You are not safe,” the officer could be heard shouting in the video. “You could hide something in your hair. If you don’t take it off, we do not know if there’s something inside, OK? You are not safe for us.”
In her Facebook post, Adzkia said she decided to not take her flight. Instead, she booked another flight to London from the Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport, which is also in Rome. At the Fiumincino Airport, Adzkia said airport security staff also asked her to remove her hijab. She complied this time, because she wanted to prove — sadly — she was not a terrorist and has nothing to hide. But as she was taken aside to remove her hijab, Adzkia said she saw two nuns by-pass the security checkpoint without removing their own head coverings.
The airport spokesman told Mic the incident with Adzkia began when she triggered an alert through the metal detector. They said that what had happened on Sunday was not an act of religious discrimination.
“We are truly sorry for the fact that the young passenger had a negative experience whilst travelling via Ciampino airport,” the statement read. “At the same time, however, we reiterate that what happened is completely unrelated to any form of discrimination.”
Since 2004, several regions across Italy has enacted local bans on the burqa or face veils for identification purposes. However, Adzkia was not wearing any face veils nor was she questioned for identification purposes.
You can watch the footage of the altercation below: