A student was rejected by an Airbnb host because of her hijab and the company had the best response
Lodging website, Airbnb, has banned a host from its platform after it was revealed that they refused to accept a Muslim guest. According to Buzzfeed News, the host, known as "Claudia" told the British PHD student that she would not "fit" into their neighbourhood on account of her hijab.
25-year-old British neuroscience student, Nurjahan Saleque, is currently studying for her PhD in Hamburg, Germany. Frustrated by her commute, Saleque spotted an apartment on Airbnb which was closer to the city centre. After reaching out to the host, "Claudia" - Airbnb only discloses the first name of hosts - her request was declined, even though the room was still available.
Screenshots of Saleque's messages to Claudia - which were later posted on social media - show the host's response to the PHD candidate's request. "Im (sic) sorry Nurjahan but as I saw you were wearing a veil I don’t think you’d fit into our neighbourhood," "Claudia" wrote.
Saleque promptly expressed her indignance, and pointed to Airbnb's anti-discrimination policy, which forbids hosts from rejecting guests "based on race, colour, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status."
"It's a shocking reflection of you to know that you judged me as a person based on a garment of clothing that is meant to demonstrate respect," the neuroscience student wrote in her reply. "I'm saddened that you live in such a home and neighbourhood where you feel that I could not be accepted based on this."
She then took to Twitter with her grievance. "For the first time in my life I have been discriminated against for wearing a hijab and being MUSLIM!!!," the captioned screenshots of her exchange with "Claudia".
Saleque's coworkers and friends started a social media campaign to support her, using the hashtags #RacistAirbnb and #CancelClaudia.
"One of our PhD students has been rejected by an
@Airbnb host on the basis of her religion. Our students should be free from discrimination both on AND off campus!" a fellow student from Saleque's home university wrote on Twitter, while another corroborated, "This happened to a friend of a friend & I’m so disgusted rn. This ridiculous imperialistic saviour mentality that’s plagued much of Europe’s popular opinion, empowers bigots like this into thinking that they know what’s best for us...lol ok."
Two days after the incident was reported, Airbnb removed "Claudia" and all of her listings from the site, as well as issuing a personal ban. Speaking to Buzzfeed News, a spokesperson from the company said that "Claudia" was removed as soon "as we learned about this terrible incident … All Airbnb users must sign on to our Community Commitment and treat everyone in the Airbnb community with respect and without judgement or bias."
Saleque has since taken to social media to confirm that she had received an apology from Airbnb, but that they "couldn't enforce one from Claudia".