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           16 January, 2021

Category:  Press » Religion & Faith


Sikh Coalition Opposes New TSA Turban Profiling Policy

         Views: 1251
2007-08-26 16:04:43     
The Sikh Coalition

The Sikh Coalition, the nation's largest Sikh civil rights organization, strongly opposes new headwear screening procedures put in place by the Transportation Security Administration on August 4, 2007. TSA officials told the Sikh Coalition that the new Standard Operating Procedure includes a guidance recommending that America's 43,000 airport screeners pull aside turban-wearing travelers for secondary screening, based solely on their headwear.

The turban is the only form of religious garb specifically identified by the TSA as an example of headwear that could lead to secondary screening at security checkpoints. Other examples include cowboy hats and berets. The TSA's policy accounts for no difference between the turban, a religious requirement, and fashion headwear.

"Telling screeners to search people in turbans is the same as telling them to search black people or Arabs or Muslims. The policy allows screeners to single out travelers on the basis of their religion. The message this sends to the public is that people who wear turbans are dangerous," said Amardeep Singh, Executive Director of the Sikh Coalition. "That attitude challenges the spirit of religious pluralism on which our country was built."

The new policy revokes standard procedures, created in November 2001 to address Americans' national security concerns, while safeguarding religious freedom. That policy required TSA screeners to search Sikhs' turbans only when they had not successfully cleared a metal detector. Screeners were required to do as much as possible to avoid physically touching the turban. The new procedures recommend physical pat-downs of the turban, without acknowledging the religious sensitivities involved, and do not include any guidance on how to perform these manual checks.

In addition, these procedures were implemented without input from community groups, and the text of the policy is now being kept secret. Earlier policies had been the result of a joint effort between the Sikh Coalition and the Department of Transportation.

Since September 11, 2001, hundreds of Sikhs have been harassed, beaten, and even killed because of the association of their turbans and beards with terrorism. The TSA procedures put an official stamp of approval on this harmful stereotyping by the public.

Specialized in: Sikh Coalition
URL: http://www.sikhcoalition.org
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