I received a very good question from a reader and I decided to share it here with you. I have been in exactly the same situation and I remember having similar questions. So here it is for the benefit of others.
I have recently reverted to Islam and I will soon travel to my home. I am a bit concerned as on my passport photo I am not wearing any headscarf but now I am. Do you think the airport security will force me to remove my hijab? Also do you think it is possible to pin my hijab while going through security? Do you know if I would have any problems if so?
When I became a Muslim I had the same questions and funnily it is when all my “extra” security measures in the airport started. 🙂
For 3 or more years I had a passport without my hijab on. I never had a problem with immigration on this issue since you can see my face. I did have a few times immigration officers asking their colleague if I look like the photo, but it was nothing important. In Turkey I was checked if I actually spoke Bulgarian and was asked various security questions because at the time I was wearing hijab and there were many people with fake passports.
I have been to a dozen countries with no problems and I don’t really see it as a reason to be questioned about my hijab. If there was a problem they sometimes ask me in a room to check my full face with a female officer. Even today I travel often just by wearing a hat and my passport now has hijab. I have never been asked anything.
Security is a funny place and I have had funny incidents with ladies trying to check my hijab. Usually when going through security with a hijab you will be asked to go into a small room with a female officer in order for them to check your hijab. There should be two ladies with you in this room just so there is one external person observing. In many airports this is not the case but it’s still OK. They will ask you to remove your hijab or they will just check it without removing. It really depends on the person and airport. In many cases when I don’t “beep” they let me go through without even checking me.
If like me you wear hat they usually ask if you can remove it or not. I say that I wear it for religious reasons and they are OK with it. Then I proceed to the small room to be checked if needs be. I actually like the Jeddah airport as they have a separate line and room for ladies.
With regards to pins, I have never had issues with them either. I pin my hijab with them and I have back up in my handbag and it has not even been a problem.
Know your rights
It is very important to know your rights. You have the right to wear a scarf and go through security no one can ask you to remove it publicly to show your hair. You cannot also be checked in security by a male officer; they always have to be the same gender. If you are ever asked to comply with any of these decline politely.
Most airlines deal with Muslims all the time. We are not the only people who go through security and they are aware of the procedures and are careful. I find security personal very nice and I hope I continue to do so. We usually even joke, which breaks the ice.