THIS STORY WAS UPDATED
Habiba Ali, a Social Democrat candidate for parliament and city councilor for Espoo, was stopped on Saturday by a security guard at the Entresse Shopping Center’s Lidl and wrongly suspected of shoplifting a can of tuna fish. Ali asked the security guard, who treated her with respect, why she would shoplift a can of tuna if she just purchased a lot of food from the market.
She emptied her pockets and presto, no can of tuna fish.
Two employees of Lidl did not. According to Ali, they smiled and mocked her in a demeaning way.
Ali said that she has never been humiliated in such a way in public. It was the first time she had ever been stopped by a security guard and suspected of shoplifting.
“You cannot imagine how embarrassing it was for me and stopped by the guard and two Lidl employees,” she said. “I’ll never forget how one of the employees doubted my word and mocked me. She claimed that I had put the can of tuna fish back on the shelf.”
A lot of things have happened since that incident at Lidl. The general manager of the company called Ali and apologized on behalf of the company for what had happened.
“I asked the general manager that I want to discuss what happened and meet him personally together with the employee that treated me in a demeaning way,” she added.
Ali said it was important for People of Color to stand up for their rights and to speak out if they encounter unjust treatment.
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“What happened really got me down,” she continued. “I don’t have now the strength to campaign [for parliament] but I know I will get over it.”
Ali said that after the incident was widely read on Facebook and the story was picked up by Ilta-Sanomat, she got swamped with hate mail.
“I got hundreds of messages from people insulting me and accusing me of shoplifting the can of tuna,” she said. “These people who sent these message have so much hate. They should seek help.”