Flying while muslim
Writing from a cafe in Oslo, where, surprisingly, very few places offer free wireless-you either have to pay for access or have the passport, a very Capitalist practice for a Socialist country.
So far I've had a wonderful, if chilly, time. My hosts have been incredibly warm and friendly and tried to stuff me full of all sorts of NOrwegian goodies (as my friend Amira asked-what's your suhoor like, "let me guess, combination of cold smelly fish and soft cheeses?"...pretty accurate, but delicious nonetheless :))
Today was the first day of the conference, which went very well, and was an experience for me in Norwegian socialist leftist culture, which I"ll talk more about when I have more time, as well as my impressions on Norwegian discourse on Palestine.
first a little about airport trip over, always as ever adventerous:
You’ve heard the expression “FWM”…flying while Muslim. Well it never fails. I feel like its a self-fulfilling prophecy, I'm alwasy so nervous they'll stop me, and they always do.
So I’m checking into the airport for my flight to Chicago from Minneapolis, and I get stopped by one of the security officials, who casually asks me “ma’am, have you ever been SSSSed before?”.
"SSSSed? What does that even mean?" I wonderered, but I didn’t bother to ask, because I guessed it was probably something sinister. Something to do with stopping people that seemed to be suspicious and probably plotting a terrorist attack (That, or they happen to wear hijab or “look”: muslim). Accordingly, I answered:
“I'm not sure what that acronym means, but if I were to guess, I'd say pretty much every time-its become a routine”.
“We have a female SS here, some help please” the agent bellowed out in front of the long line of nervous onlookers .
So now its only two Ss I thought? I waited, and was escorted by another official for a check before being asked about what potentially lethal liquids or gels I had. IN my possession was a 4 oz strawberry fit ‘n light Dannon yoghurt.
“Ma’am, are you aware with our new security regulations?” he asked staunchly.
“Yes yes sure, just go ahead and toss it out”, contemplating the potentially lethal nature of strawberries, corn syrup, and bacteria.
"You can eat it if you want” he suggested.
“I’m fasting” I replied.
After this my handbaggage was checked, and I was casually asked about what I do for a living, and then torso searched by a female agent who explained, eruditely,
“Do you know you were stopped here today?”
“Maybe you can tell me," I suggested. "I get stopped everytime so I’ve sort of become accustomed to not asking why.”
“Its probably because of the way you booked your ticket, which set off a red light- maybe it was booked in the last 24 hours, or it was booked one way, or you made changes to it at the last minute” she said.
“I booked it nearly a month ago; I’ve made no last minute changes; and I’m flying roundtrip,” I retorted, to her silent stares.
Why do I even bother. To make matters worse there was a big orange sign indicating that today’s terrorist threat level was “high”. Probably people looking suspicously, thinking they had caught the suspect: the strawberry yoghurt toting Gazan on her way to a social forum in Norway-because that all links back to the Oslo Accords, a good cause to sabatoge if there ever was one.