Lessons living with Mohanji – Days 131 & 132

by Christopher Greenwood

Day 131 Lesson – Discrimination @ Frankfurt Airport ️

Good morning everybody. I hope that you’re doing very well. 

Yesterday we arrived in Slovenia, and I would have liked to have shared a more positive message this morning. But unfortunately, I had the opportunity to witness discrimination and extreme harassment firsthand at Frankfurt Airport as Mohanji cleared through the security on our transit route from Mumbai to Frankfurt. We were transiting from Frankfurt to Ljubljana. I had never seen anything like this before. I have a UK passport and a fair complexion, so I never experienced anything of discrimination myself. But to witness this was a shock because it’s the first time I’ve seen it firsthand. Here’s what happened.

At Frankfurt airport, we went through the transit security, and we went into separate lanes as Mohanji was going by a business class and I was going by usual. We’d usually wait for each other after the security check. As I collected my bags, I looked up the line, scanning for Mohanji. I could see him right at the top of the line. He was surrounded and interrogated by two police officers. All the security guards were around him; the staff who operate the scanning machines were ripping out everything from Mohanji’s backpack. There was obviously a laptop and things like this, but there were also some very important personal documents. All contents from the bag, like cards and personal items, were indiscriminately taken out of the wallet; every single pocket was emptied; everything was being questioned. They started under the premise of checking for explosives. 

I’ve had that check before; usually, they have a swab of cloth, and they run it across all the materials in the bag and then put it into a machine because it can pick up something that the explosives have. Then they check it, and that’s enough. But here, it just seemed utterly over the top. Mohanji was travelling business class, and you wouldn’t expect that type of treatment.

Everything was taken out! Everything questioned! One by one, “What’s this? What’s this? What’s this? How much money do you have? Why are you carrying this money? Where did you get it from?” It’s completely unnecessary, especially for someone travelling business class and in transit; it’s fine that you’re carrying money. I can only put this down to complete harassment. Mohanji stood there in front of everybody as every single thing was taken out of the backpack. Towards the end, I could notice the body language of the usual security staff changing. I could see that they were uncomfortable with the situation that was happening. But then another third policeman joined in this interrogation. A terrible and unpleasant experience!

From Mohanji’s previous travel via Frankfurt Airport, I understood that he had experienced the same problem. Later, when I was browsing the internet, and some people were sending me articles, I realized that it’s not uncommon for this to happen at that airport. It has a history of indiscriminately harassing people as they make their way through the airport. This experience soured the last leg of the journey yesterday. It was complete disrespect, discrimination and harassment. 

I hope you have a good day after hearing this. I wouldn’t usually like to share such a message. But I think it’s vital that these events are recognized, so I share that today in my message.



Day 132 Lesson – Discrimination @ Frankfurt Airport Cont. ️ 

Good morning everybody. I hope that you’re doing very well.

 I apologize for the slight delay in sharing this message this morning. I’m in a different time zone. This morning, I’ve been spending the majority of my time following up on the incident that happened to Mohanji at Frankfurt Airport – where he was treated with complete contempt and disrespect as we went through the security line. All his items were thrown out of his bag, and unnecessary questioning continued for 45 minutes. A sordid ordeal of harassment and abuse!

Yesterday I was on the Frankfurt Airport Facebook page. Ironically, they had posted a picture and a hashtag against racism a day earlier. So I wrote a message on that picture to let them know what happened, what we had suffered or experienced, and that I was the witness to discrimination and racism. The response that I got back was very casual, non-committal, and lacking any sense of responsibility. This has given me insight into how lightly people treat these matters when actually, it’s a fundamental matter for many people. 

After reading the comments, I learned that many people had experienced a similar situation at that airport, so it’s not isolated. If anybody at home does something terrible, steals, robs, or anything like that in a family home, it reflects badly on the house. In the same way, the actions of the staff at the airport handling the security check reflect poorly on the airport as a whole. The airport has a responsibility to ensure to treat people with respect, regardless of the colour of their skin.

I’ve completed my report to the police as requested by Frankfurt Airport. I’ve posted my reply, too, saying they need to do something about it. The management team is taking Mohanji’s incident of discrimination to the highest authorities possible. There was no acknowledgement, no apology whatsoever for the embarrassment caused.

Looking back at the event, I’m yet again reminded of the sheer contempt shown by the security guards and police as they handed over the trays with all the items from the bags completely scattered across them all. Everything was taken out; every single item chucked into the tray like trash; it was then just handed over to us in trays in a non-apologetic, non-committal manner, not even a second look or a second glance. It’s that disrespect which needs to change. People should be able to travel or transit and be treated with respect despite their skin colour or ethnicity. This is what we’ll continue to pursue these next few days or as far as it takes. 

Hope you have a great day ahead!

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Edited & Published by – Testimonials Team, 5th June 2022


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