A member of the New South Wales parliament in Australia was detained for over an hour at LAX this week in a bad case of what she calls "racial profiling."
Pakistani-born Mehreen Faruqi, a Greens member of the NSW legislative council, says that she and her husband were questioned for over an hour about how she had obtained an Australian passport.
“We said it was because we lived there and they asked where we were originally from,” Faruqi said. “When we said Pakistan we were told that someone would be escorting us to the interview room.”
Faruqi, who has lived in Australia for 24 years and has been a citizen for over 22 years, says it was utterly embarrassing and heartbreaking.
“To be asked how I got an Australian passport is ridiculous on one level and heart-wrenching at another,” she said. “You don’t expect it; you know you haven’t done anything. It’s a little bit embarrassing.”
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She explains that they were “aggressively” asked about their identification, and were then taken and separated into two different interrogation rooms at the airport.
“The interview was along the same lines: why are you here, do you have a Pakistani passport, have you been to Pakistan, what do you do there,” she said.
After about an hour, they were both allowed to continue on with their trip.
Faruqi hopes that telling her story might help combat the Islamophobia that runs so rampant in today’s society.
“I know that people are treated this way every day,” she said. “The concern for me is that the political debate about racism and Islamophobia is at a very low level at the moment and it feeds into this sort of thing.”
@MehreenFaruqi I know that interview room. LAX right? I had the same experience. I was asked to explain how such a whitey got the name Khan.— Stuart Khan (@stukhan) January 14, 2016
Interestingly, a man who saw Faruqi's Twitter account of the event shared that he, too, had an eerily similar experience.
Stuart Khan, an associate professor in environmental engineering at the University of New South Wales, said, "I know that interview room. LAX right? I had the same experience. I was asked to explain how such a whitey got the name Khan."
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