Passenger posts anti-Muslim rants after being stopped at airport

AN angry plane passenger sent a series of abusive tweets because she was stopped at passport control by a Muslim officer.

Tuesday, 4th September 2018, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th September 2018, 7:21 pm

Philomena Anderson was left raging after she was pulled aside for checks by Border Force Officer Sayima Mohammed after getting off a plane from Italy at Edinburgh Airport last year.

Anderson, 49, was held up for 20 minutes but went on to post offensive online rants on the Edinburgh Airport Twitter page claiming Officer Mohammed had only stopped her due to her skin colour. Anderson claimed Ms Mohammed targeted her as she was “profiling blacks” during the passport check at the Capital’s airport last May.

Anderson’s social media comments also included: “You people are killing in the name of Allah” and “Your fellow Muslims are putting us all at risk”.

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Edinburgh Airport. Picture: Julie Howden
Edinburgh Airport. Picture: Julie Howden

The offensive tweets also called Ms Mohammed “Hijab girl” and one post contained the words “suicide bomber”.

Anderson, originally from Ghana, had denied the allegations and claimed it was her daughter who had posted the racist and offensive remarks online.

But the mum-of-two was found guilty of behaving in a threatening or abusive manner by uttering religious and offensive remarks online between May 26 and June 4 last year following a summary trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last month.

She returned to court for sentencing yesterday where Sheriff Thomas Welsh said the offence could only be described as “naked racism” towards the muslim officer.

The sheriff was told Anderson continues to deny the offence and sentenced her to pay a £600 fine.

Previously the court heard from Border Force Officer Ms Mohammed who said she believed the tweets were aimed at her as she was the only hijab-wearer working with Border Control at Edinburgh Airport.

The airport worker said she stopped Anderson at the International Arrivals passport control on May 26 last year due to a difference in her appearance to her passport picture.

Ms Mohammed, 43, said: “I stopped the passenger as she came to my control and presented her UK documents.

“She looked different to the person in her passport. She then became quite abrasive about any questioning.”

Ms Mohammed, a passport forgery expert, said that she kept Anderson waiting for “a maximum of 20 minutes” while she checked out her documents with the Home Office.

After the wait in a separate sitting area Anderson was allowed on her way and when she returned home she posted the offensive remarks over the following days.

Inspector Peter Jones, of Police Scotland, said: “When Police Scotland were made aware of the offensive comments made online, this matter was treated as a hate crime and Philomena Anderson was subsequently arrested and charged. We will absolutely not tolerate hate crime in any form.

“It is not acceptable to subject anybody, whether they are carrying out lawful duties such as this officer, or members of the public going about their business, to abusive comments, be it in person or on social media.”