Fireman Sam creator accused of racism over Muslim jibe at Gatwick airport security
A retired fireman who created the children's character Fireman Sam has revealed that he was detained at Gatwick Airport for asking why a veiled woman was not checked by security.
The Telegraph reports that David Jones, 67, placed his belongings in a tray as he passed through the X-ray scanner at the security gates.
He had already removed his own scarf when he spotted a Muslim woman in a hijab passing through the area without showing her face. He said to the security official: "If I was wearing this scarf over my face, I wonder what would happen."
After passing through the metal detector, Mr Jones told the newspaper that he was confronted by a guard who said that he was being detailed because he had made an offensive remark.
Mr Jones told The Telegraph: "I feel that my rights as an individual have been violated. What I underwent amounts to intimidation and detention. I was humiliated and degraded in full public view."
He explained: "I repeated to her [the guard] what I had said and told her that I had said nothing racist. She took my passport and boarding pass and I was then escorted back through the security zone into the outer area. Here the female security guard proceeded to question me further, inferring many things that I had not said.
"It was impossible to get her to listen to reason. We were then joined by a second female security guard who stated that she was Muslim and was deeply distressed by my comment.
"I again staged that I had not made a racist remark but purely an observation that we were in a maximum security situation being searched throughly whilst a woman with her face covered walked through. I made no reference to race or religion. I did not swear or raise my voice."
He was told by police that he would only be allowed to continue on his journey if he apologised to the Muslim guard. Eventually he was told by the airport manager that he would be allowed to board his flight if he would agree that what he said "could" be considered offensive by the Muslim guard, and he agreed to the compromise.
He now intends to make a formal complaint to the Gatwick Airport authorities.
A spokesperson for Gatwick Airport said: "The security team are examining the incident to ensure that the issue was managed in the right way.
"They are talking to the people involved to understand what the issue was and how it came to have the police involved."
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