chapter  27
Flying while Muslim
Should we be concerned about Islamophobia at the airport?
WithLeda Blackwood
Pages 12

The phrase ‘flying while Muslim’ has in recent years entered our lexicon. It is used as short-hand to capture an experience of scrutiny and humiliation common among Muslims travelling in non-Muslim countries. Increasingly, travel companies and airport authorities are being challenged to account for these experiences and to address discriminatory policies and practices that may contribute. Yet, some commentators (including Muslims) question both the feasibility and the desirability of doing so; surely the ‘hurt feelings’ of a few is the price we must pay for the security of the many? This chapter draws on research conducted with airport authorities and British Muslims as well as wider reportage of Muslim experiences to examine what is wrong with this argument and why we should indeed be concerned about Islamophobia at the airport. What is presented is a social psychological analysis of how airport authorities and Muslims themselves understand the nature of Muslims experiences of Islamophobia in the airport; and the consequences for Muslim–authority relations both inside the airport and beyond.