Jordanian-Palestinian Amani Al-Khatahtbeh is the latest victim of Islamophobic vetting at international airports.
The journalist, women's rights activist and founder of MuslimGirl.com, who headed to France as a jury member at the 2017 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, was forced to remove her hijab at the Nice airport.
Having been threatened with deportation as well as having her passport confiscated, Al-Khatahtbeh is now filing for legal action with the help of a lawyer who confirmed that asking a woman to remove her religious headscarf is illegal in France.
Al-Khatahtbeh took to Facebook to share her experience, describing it as "sheer dehumanization and humiliation". She decided to talk about the incident fearing that "the cop who did it will feel emboldened to do it again to more vulnerable Muslim women after me."
According to her post, a patrol officer at the airport refused to stamp her passport with her headscarf on, despite her wearing a scarf in her passport photo.
When Al-Khatahtbeh refused to take off her scarf, demanding a legitimate justification to the officer's request, the officer responded, "You are in France and in France I want to see your hair!"
He then "got extremely hostile and aggressive" and insisted that the law allows him to request that she remove her scarf.
Being the strong-minded woman that she is, Al-Khatahtbeh maintained her stance and refused to it take off in front of the male officer. When it became evident that the officer would not let it slide, she agreed to show her hair to a female officer.
"Though that is still equally degrading since it's clear the only reason why they wanted to see my hair was to 'put me in my place' as a Muslim," Al-Khatahtbeh writes.
Refusing to let the incident pass unpunished, Al-Khatahtbeh asked for the officer's identification number. "This is where the man blew up," she writes.
The officer then confiscated her passport and coordinated her immediate return to New York with Delta Airlines, saying "You ask for my ID number? I take your passport!"
After demanding to get her passport back and speak with the American Embassy, the cop "shouted provocations", such as, "You have two choices: Are you going to shut your mouth or are you going to keep causing problems?"
When she made it clear that she is a journalist and a jury member for the Cannes Lions Festival and informed him that she would write about the incident, the officer spoke to Delta Airlines to mediate the issue.
"They weren't afraid of violating my rights, they were afraid of a possible PR nightmare on their hands," she says.
Soon after sharing her post, Al-Khatahtbeh posted an update stating the she is working with a French lawyer at the Collectif Contre l'Islamophobie en France.
The lawyer assured her that it is illegal in France for a police officer to demand that a Muslim woman remove her religious headscarf, adding that there is no basis for security concerns in her case "given that nothing was obstructing my face and I'm wearing a headscarf in my passport photo".
"I was violated and I will pursue this to the fullest extent," she says. "Not just for justice, but also on behalf of all my brothers and sisters in France enduring this harassment everyday because of their religion. They can't keep getting away with it."
Al-Khatahtbeh is the founder and editor-in-chief of Muslim Girl, an online platform dedicated to Muslim women in the United States.
She was named in Forbes' 30 under 30 list in 2016 under the media category. Her face has also been featured on several billboards in Times Square for her incredible and empowering work.
Al Khatahtbeh regularly appears on CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera, where she comments on political, social and women's issues.