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18 Apr, 2015

Muslim sisters of New Zealand citizenship harassed at Brisbane airport

Christchurch City, New Zealand (IINA) 16 Apr 2015 – Two Christchurch Muslim sisters voiced their outrage after being treated as “a potential threat” at an Australian airport while they were on their way to see their father win a medical award, One News of New Zealand television network TVNZ, reported.

Canterbury University student Nada Tawfeek, 21, and her sister Hannah, 18, were pulled aside at Brisbane Airport by security guards and intimidated apparently because of their religion.

Student Nada Tawfeek her sister Hannah and their father Sherif ,(Image from tvnz.co.nz)

The women, who were wearing headscarves, were in Queensland to attend a fellowship ceremony for their father, Christchurch gynaecologist Sherif Tawfeek.

“We have a security guard following us; no one else is being followed. He is literally following me and my sister’s every move,” Tawfeek told TV ONE’s Breakfast this morning program.

As the pair went to collect their bags they were stopped again by another customs guard who asked them a series of questions in an “intimidating tone”.

During their interrogation, a fire alarm also went off and passengers were told to leave their belongings and evacuate immediately, however the pair were told to stay in the building.

“An officer started looking at my sister’s personal diaries and journals and reading through them,” Tawfeek said, adding her phone and photos were also scrutinized.

A supervisor told the pair Australian law entitled officers to go through property if they have “good reason”.

“It’s not the fact that I’m Muslim, or that they chose me because I’m Muslim that I’m upset about. It’s about what happens after. I believe that no matter what your race is, whether you’re Muslim or Christian and wherever you come from, you should not be treated the way me and my sister were treated.”

She said her treatment was in part because western media “misrepresent Muslims.”

Student Tawfeek, who is Egyptian-born and English raised, returned to Christchurch early on Tuesday morning.