// Airport screening for 'Flying while Muslim'
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« on: Jan 29, 2010 03:08 PM »


Airport screening for 'Flying while Muslim'


By Nafees Syed, Special to CNN

Editor's note: Nafees A. Syed, a senior at Harvard University majoring in government, is an editorial editor at The Harvard Crimson as well as a senior editor and columnist for the Harvard-MIT journal on Islam and society, Ascent. She is chairwoman of the Harvard Institute of Politics Policy Group on Racial Profiling.

(CNN) -- It seems that now someone called "Barack Hussein Obama" can be pulled aside and patted down merely because of his name. But while our president has the benefit of Air Force One, millions of us with a "funny name" (Muslim and otherwise) do not. Like me.

I've consistently faced "random" selections for extra screening at the airport after I decided to wear the hijab, or Muslim head covering. I've been told to take my head scarf off or have my head probed while the passengers in front of me offered pitying smiles as they rushed to their flights.

One time, the woman in front of me had a hairdo that could pose more of a security threat than any head scarf could. Muslim women wear the hijab as a symbol of modesty, to be judged not by their appearance.

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed that people would be judged for "the content of their character." However, the Transportation Security Administration is judging me and other Muslims by the way we look.

The TSA uses the hijab to profile Muslim women, and passengers can now expect a full-body pat-down, an appallingly invasive "enhanced pat-down search that could include the chest and groin, or a planned "mind-scan" that would track people's reaction to terrorist symbols. What's next, palm reading?

At an airport with a full body scanner, I can have the image of my body displayed before a stranger -- virtual nudity. Do they seriously have a blank check on our bodies? Of course I care about profiling partly because I'm affected. But does one have to face this issue to feel that it's wrong? After all, it is difficult to imagine ourselves in other people's shoes when we don't have to.

It's hard for me too. Especially over the past month, I've been shocked at the comments about my faith, and the sometimes-prejudiced support for racial profiling. Radio host Mike Gallagher said, "There should be a separate line to scrutinize anybody with the name Abdul or Ahmed or Mohammed." Sorry Paula Abdul and Muhammad Ali, or anyone with the world's most common name, Muhammad.

For people who aren't affected by racial profiling at airports, imagine this: The TSA implements a new rule to counter drunken driving, which kills over 13,000 Americans every year. People who are not Muslim have to go through a Breathalyzer test before they can enter their vehicle. Muslims don't drink alcohol and are, therefore, exempt. Ridiculous? I agree.

I know that what I am going through is just the tip of the iceberg of racial profiling in our country. Thirty-two million Americans report that they have been the victims of racial profiling. Racial profiling violates the U.S. Constitution, is ineffective and trickles down to the workplace, schools and elsewhere.

You also run into problems when you justify profiling nearly one in every four people in the world. There are Muslims of every possible race, making profiling practically futile. Fareed Zakaria said it best: "When you're trying to find a needle in a haystack, adding hay does not help you."

Putting ethical and pragmatic reasons aside, it's hard to justify not caring. Even if racial profiling doesn't affect us, it affects our friends, family members, co-workers, doctors, television personalities -- the list goes on. There are some people who don't know Muslims and are numb to realizing the effects of profiling. Therein lies the problem.

According to the Pew Research Center, people who know Muslims are less likely to have negative views of them. Co-existence is a dismal possibility unless people go to the source to find out about Islam, not skewed Web sites.

And Muslims, here's something to think about: If your knowledge of Islam came from common stereotypes, wouldn't you also be misinformed about the faith and its followers? The Quran says, "[God has] made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another (49:13)." So get to know your fellow Americans.

There are some Americans who think Muslims are terrorists and some Muslims who think that other Americans are willfully ignorant. Neither group deserves such a label. Psychologist Henri Tajfel, who was a Holocaust survivor, explained how we isolate ourselves into an "in-group" and facilitate discrimination of an "out-group."

Religious profiling boxes Muslims into a category separate from Americans. We can't accept that distinction. Let's all think outside of the box.

It's essential for U.S. security that airport screening be done. But we need to stop the inflation of procedures that make our society more afraid and less secure. The TSA needs to stop and evaluate methods that are more effective, less invasive, and don't discriminate based on religion or race.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Nafees A. Syed.
 

 
 
 
 

 
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Christine_1208
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« Reply #1 on: Jan 29, 2010 09:24 PM »

This is so sad. How humiliating is it to be patted down, and I am sure they go the extra mile for the fun of it. I swear if I have to fly I am wearing my hair in a tight bun with a baseball cap and a turtle neck. Some other alternative that covers what needs to be covered with out calling that extra attention to myself. I just would rather do that then have some male/female security guard feel me up.. I'd be in jail for murder...lol

I believe in Islam like the sun rising, not because I see it but because by it, I see everything else.
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« Reply #2 on: Jan 30, 2010 04:06 PM »

Asalam,
forget being patted down, they can now see everything no matter how much clothes you wear. She described it really well by calling it "virtual nudity". That has scared my mom into not flying anywhere. Don't they realize that the only people they're going to scare off are the women and not the so called terrorists themselves?

Assalamu Alaikum
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« Reply #3 on: Feb 01, 2010 01:18 AM »

My 4 year old niece and 2 year old nephew are on the no fly list!! They said their name is "in common with someone". And there is no way to take them off. Everytime they go to the airport they will have to go through extra security. It's really sad that they think this is how they will "win the war on terror".
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« Reply #4 on: Feb 01, 2010 07:16 AM »

Asalam,
I read a story where an 8 year American child has to go through extra security checks because his name is close to one on the "no fly list". The first time he was frisked, he was 2 years old. Thank Allah, I haven't been "randomly selected" too many times but I think even that is over now as I am growing out my facial hair.

Assalamu Alaikum
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« Reply #5 on: Feb 01, 2010 09:41 AM »

salam


I'm sorry, but are security officials at airports, really that idiotic as to frisk babies and toddlers?

Surely at some point they should use their god given common sense and you know perhaps read the rest of the criteria, ie surely these people on no fly lists are more detailed then just a name, for example is the age of the person not available on these databases......Huh?

I dont think that would be allowed in the UK, well not yet at least, as one paper once famously quoted, 'america sneezes and the rest of the world catches cold', as a general rule of thumb beginning with the UK....

I was on a parenting forum, and was utterly appalled to read a jewish woman, blithely spouting as fact that 'oh, those muslim terrorists have been known to use babies to commit suicide bombings...' errr no love they haven't if they had it would have been on every single media outlet available. She had no answer when I actually asked for a news articlem no matter how sketchy proving her assertions........

Its child abuse, frisking a helpless baby or toddler, pure and simple.

Besides, I seriously doubt a suicide bomber would even bother using an airport with these scanners he'd head for a smaller lesser stringently protected airport, or docks or something, and he'd prolly not be on the no fly list as he wouldn't have a name which would arouse suspicion, the worst thing any muslim can do at the moment is flying whilst named something blatently middle eastern..........


I'm changing my name to Bob.



Wassalaam

And when My servants question thee concerning Me, then surely I am nigh. I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he crieth unto Me. So let them hear My call and let them trust in Me, in order that they may be led aright. Surah 2  Verse 186
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« Reply #6 on: Feb 02, 2010 06:01 AM »


Asalaamu Alaikum  bro


Quote
I'm changing my name to Bob


Don’t Americans pronounce Bob as Baab (which is the Arabic for door/gate)


There’s no winning either way Wink

Say: "O ye my servants who believe! Fear your Lord, good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world. Spacious is God's earth! those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!" [39:10]
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« Reply #7 on: Feb 02, 2010 09:31 AM »

salam

Look look look;

http://www.metro.co.uk/news/811250-flight-ban-for-passengers-refusing-naked-body-scans


The British human rights commision is seriously peed off at the suggestion of strip search detectors here, especially for those searching children.

It sounds like in England at least, the strip search detectors are going to be of the random kind, ie not everyone will be going thro them, only the few people who the authorities pick out at random.

I use public transport a lot and have gotten off my train to find the entire train/tube station overrun by police in combat uniform picking out random people to go thro metal detectors, or empty out bags or having to file past police officers with sniffer dogs one by one. Alhumdulillah I've never ever been singled out for any of these searches, nobody spares me a second glance alhumdulillah, not that anyone would find anything on me.... altho the last time I emptied out my bag (I lost my keys), I found a tenner (always a happy event)!

Of course the randomly choosing people to go thro these detectors is open to abuse, and the hijabis and niqabis are going to bear the brunt of it.

These detectors aren't in use at all airports here, Birmingham is starting to use then, Birmingham has a big muslim population, gosh come hajj time those poor hajjis!




I've been giving this name thing a lot of thoguht, I've decided on Jesse, this way I can be either american or english (if english its short for Jessica obviously). More to the point those pesky americans can pronounce it, I know they can because every other american student in this place is called Jesse (I'll blend in really well).



Wassalaam

And when My servants question thee concerning Me, then surely I am nigh. I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he crieth unto Me. So let them hear My call and let them trust in Me, in order that they may be led aright. Surah 2  Verse 186
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« Reply #8 on: Feb 03, 2010 03:42 PM »

Quote
My 4 year old niece and 2 year old nephew are on the no fly list!! They said their name is "in common with someone"

Gosh, that is sad! Actually, my Amma and I were coming back from India in 2003 and we were in Hong Kong and at the check in desk we had to stop at in between flights, the lady was taking a while to get through my processing I offered to clarify what my name was and then she said, "Oh, your name is like one of theirs" or something very similar from what I recall, so yeah its definitly out there and I'm saddened that our little ones have to face this that early in life, if at all.  Angry Sad

 desibro
BABA
PS When I go to London to visit my aunt (khala) I fly to Stansted, so thus far, no naked scanners, but it was all over the news when I was there in Dec/Jan after that Nigerian idiot tried to blow that flight on Christmas. I do hope things do "calm down" a bit in the summer when I head back to the States (home).

The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another:  [9:71]
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« Reply #9 on: Feb 03, 2010 09:45 PM »

Asalam,
So I am curious..if these scanners do come in your city, would you still travel to visit family outside? I'm right in the middle of us, literally, so if I wanted to avoid these scanners I'd have to drive for almost a day before even getting close to a border and that's assuming that mexico or canada won't have any of these scanners or any stops that I might have in between. I don't know I am kind of annoyed by this new technology. My mom's vowed not to travel by plane anymore if these scanners become operational.

Assalamu Alaikum
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