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A Sikh Woman Says She Had to Show an Airline Employee Her Breast Pump to Prove She Wasn't a Terrorist

Valarie Kaur wrote on Facebook that a fellow passenger became angry and suspicious after she removed the carry-on tag from her bag.

by Brian McManus
04 December 2015, 9:50am

Photo via Flickr userERIC SALARD

Photo via Flickr user ERIC SALARD

Read: What We Know So Far About the Mass Shooting in San Bernardino

Not long after Wednesday's tragic mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, a woman named Valarie Kaur was boarding a Delta flight in Minnesota bound for LA to celebrate her son's first birthday. The suspected shooters in San Bernardino had just been identified as a married Muslim couple, and Kaur—a Sikh woman—could allegedly already feel the judgmental glare of those in line with her while waiting to board the plane.

Kaur took the luggage tag off her carry-on luggage where she kept her breast pump, which she planned to use during the flight. That roused the suspicion of an angry white man behind her, and he began pointing Kaur out to other passengers. Soon, an "alarmed and angered" gate agent was flagged, according to Kaur.

"I explained that I was a nursing mother, but she still didn't let me board with my bag," she wrote on her Facebook page. Kaur was then forced to show the angry agent her breast pump. "Only then was I allowed to take my seat. All the passengers in first class watched and I smiled weakly to show them I wasn't a terrorist."

Sitting on the flight afterward, Kaur was "angry, shaken, and sad." Her grief for those shot in San Bernardino, she writes, "was interrupted by a passenger seeing me as a suspect." On the plane, she thought back on "the countless subtle acts of profiling of Muslim Sikh and brown bodies in the last 14 years."

After the flight, a Delta rep reached out to Kaur via Twitter and apologized. Kaur updated her Facebook post to point out that the rest of the crew on her flight acted professionally and respectfully.