TSA Orders Turban Searches At Airports
Whether it is a case of blatant racial profiling or just another security measure of the post 9/11 world, a U.S. group called the Sikhs are furious at a recently implemented TSA rule requiring that all head gear be searched while going through airport security. For the Sikhs the rule has far reaching implications as it forces them to remove their religously mandated head wrap or turban. Its not racial profiling, says the TSA, who implemented the rule after a man in Peru smuggled a monkey on a plane bound for the U.S. by hiding the animal under his hat. Sikhs officials met with the TSA in Washington DC last week to discuss the matter; another meeting is planned for nxt week.
CBS) NEW YORK The new federal policy of checking hats when going through airport security is causing a serious controversy, with many now asking: Is it a necessary security measure or another act of racial profiling?
Perhaps after the national embarrassment of a monkey getting through Transportation Security Administration agents under a man's hat and ending up on a plane departing Peru and bound for Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and then onto another plane bound for New York City on Aug. 8, officials decided to make changes in policies regarding hats.
Even if you made it through airport security, federal TSA screeners can now search or pat down a passenger's hat in search of illegal items or weapons. Seems fair enough for many passengers, even those with hats.
"What I do do as a courtesty obviously is I go through security so they see I don't have a weapon or other contraband under the hat," says air traveler Leland Hardy.
Others see where the system is skewed, however.
"It's just a hat, I'll take it off. I don't care," says Chris Tryfonos, a Queens resident. "A yarmulka, you wouldn't want to take it off, a turban [too]."
One group in particular -- Sikhs -- agrees, saying the new TSA hat policy is focused on those who wear turbans is in effect a form of racial profiling.
Prablyit Singh, a Sikh who wears his turban as part of his religion, was stopped recently when he flew out of his home airport in Washington D.C.
He objected to having his turban patted down after he had passed the metal detector, and says TSA agents gave him a hard time afterward, yelling at him.
"What I had to go through was not only humiliating, but a demeaning situation to get onto this flight," Singh says.
Singh finally agreed to the pat down, but as is required by his religion, asked it be done in private.
The National Sikh Coalition headquartered in New York believes this is racial profiling because agents seem to believe all turbans should be searched.
"I don't know if it's a direct order to profile, I know that the end result is profiling, and I don't think the TSA cares," says Harsimran Kaur, attorney for The National Sikh Coalition.
In it's release on the hat screenings, a TSA spokeswoman said the TSA does not conduct ethnic or religious profiling, and employs multiple checks and balances to ensure profiling does not happen.
The Sikh Coalition met with TSA officials last week in Washington, and is planning another meeting for next week.