Monday, January 4, 2010

CAIR Terms New TSA Screening 'Profliling'

The Council on American-Islamic Relations says new TSA screening procedures that took effect today amount to profiling of Muslims.

CAIR objects to the fact that the enhanced screening effects people traveling from or through 13 Muslim-majority nations on the grounds that they will disproportionately target American Muslims who have family or spiritual ties to the Islamic world.

“Under these new guidelines, almost every American Muslim who travels to see family or friends or goes on pilgrimage to Mecca will automatically be singled out for special security checks - that’s profiling,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “While singling out travelers based on religion and national origin may make some people feel safer, it only serves to alienate and stigmatize Muslims and does nothing to improve airline security.”

In a commentary distributed today by CAIR challenging calls for profiling, Awad suggested alternatives to faith-based security checks: “First look at behavior, not at faith or skin color. Then spend what it takes to obtain more bomb-sniffing dogs, to install more sophisticated bomb-detection equipment and to train security personnel in identifying the behavior of real terror suspects.”

He noted that the behavior of the alleged Christmas Day bomber, not his national origin or faith, should have prevented him from ever boarding the flight. Suspicious behavior of the alleged bomber included paying cash for his ticket and checking in without luggage.

Awad also cited an editorial published today by the by the San Diego Union-Tribune, which states in part:

“But aside from the moral objections, as we’ve seen, profiling by characteristic isn’t very efficient. The minute U.S. officials put out the word that they’re not scrutinizing people with blond hair and blue eyes is the minute that al Qaeda starts recruiting people with blond hair and blue eyes.

"Would looking for Arab-Americans have turned up a passenger that resembled ‘American Taliban’ fighter John Walker Lindh? Would applying extra scrutiny to people with foreign-sounding names have kept would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid off a plane?”

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