Saturday, October 21, 2006

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.


MOre later.


Blogger Amelopsis said...

Yoghourt, well of course! It could be used to attack some lactose intolerant person ;)

1:26 AM  
Blogger steve said...

Regratable, all right,but perhaps you can help me to remember? What percentage of terrorists attacks against Western targets have been conducted by Muslims?

Be nice. Inadequate security will kill you, too.

6:14 AM  
Blogger janinsanfran said...

I love it that they have now created language, the expression "SSSSed". I was a plaintiff in one of the first lawsuits about this. In those days (2002) it was very primitive. They scrawled a red S on your boarding pass and then put you through various searches, different ones depending on the airport.

I remain angry and embarrassed that my country does this to you for FWM.

8:38 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

Help me remember Steve, what percentage of wars in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries were started by Christian countries? hmmmmmm, almost all of them?

How much "collateral damage" is the western Judeo-Christian world responsible for over the last 60 years or so......far less than Muslim extremists, or Muslim states, I guarantee you. Ask the Nicaraguans and the Salvadorans and the Panamanians....and when you're done, check with the Pacific Islanders, Granadans, don't forget WWII, Korea, Viet Nam (where our cluster bombs are STILL killing people), Laos (where we weren't deployed), Cambodia (where we also weren't deployed), shall I go on or do you get the idea.

BTW - what was the last war started by a Muslim country, and don't say Gulf War I because Iraq was a secular country, at least until we decided to give it the gift of democracy.

You can add Palestinians to the list because we allocated $43 million to back Fatah and Abbas, gee that started right when the clashes with Hamas and Fatah started.....surprise surprise.

Get out a history book Steve, American history didn't start on September 11, 2001

Sorry that happens to you, it's disgraceful.....Steve forgot what it means to be an American

8:44 PM  
Blogger misneach said...

To be honest, I'd be a bit nervous about having Danon Fit n' Lite on a plane with me as well. I mean think about it, this stuff has Bacteria. Bacteria is what breaks down all decaying matter is it not? And there's alot of decaying matter out there, so that's a very large mass for bacteria to be breaking down... and when you're breaking down something you're destroying it, aren't you? And, G*d forbid you spilled some on the fat man in the seat next to you (I don't know about you, but when I fly I always end up next to a fat man...) causing him distress, why he could view that as a direct attack! And it's with weapons that people attack! OMG YOU TRIED TO SMUGGLE A WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION ONTO A PLANE!!!

*Pheew* it's a good thing security got to it when they did. No telling the kind of carnage that could have ensued...

5:02 AM  
Blogger misneach said...

But seriously though, what percentage of Timothy McVeigh was muslim I wonder steve...

Laila, I can't wait to hear more about your trip... Hope it isn't all work and no time to enjoy the sights...

5:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I fly while being Muslim on Muslim airlines. Cowards like Steve should try it sometimes.

11:43 AM  

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