On November 8, 2005, The Journal News reported, "Local Muslims yesterday reacted with sadness and outrage to a Department of Homeland Security official's recent urging that they and Arab-Americans register with the federal government before flying, to reduce the chance their names are flagged as security risks.
Daniel Sutherland, the department's head of civil rights, made the comments at an Oct. 20 seminar on Homeland Security sponsored by the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism.
Sutherland was responding to a question posed by a reporter who wanted to know what options were available to Muslims and Arab-Americans who frequently were targets of additional scrutiny at airports, Valerie Smith, a spokeswoman for the department, said yesterday.
"Mr. Sutherland was stating that any individual who has concerns about secondary screenings has this option available to them, but we do not recommend that all Americans or particular groups of Americans register in this program, only those individuals who have concerns about secondary screening could consider this an option," Smith said.
Sutherland's suggestion was that Muslim and Arab-American travelers complete a form on the Web page of the Transportation Security Administration, a division of Homeland Security responsible for protecting mass transit systems, including airports.
But Gilbert Gordon, president of the Jerrahi Mosque in Chestnut Ridge, said any such program aimed at one specific group could be viewed as 'an invasion of their privacy and an invasion of their civil liberty.'
Rather than achieve greater security and improved relations, having Muslims register would do nothing more than foster 'distrust and animosity between the American government and Muslims,' said Gordon, who lives in Chestnut Ridge."
This article cross-posted at the Pluralism Project's Religious Diversity News.
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