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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sikh Turbans Will Be Subject to Heightened Screening at U.S. Airports

Four Sikhs Subjected to Mandatory Turban Pat Downs Over Past Two Weeks

The Sikh Coalition has learned that Sikhs are being subjected to heightened screening procedures, including mandatory turban pat downs, at all U.S. Airports.

The Coalition became aware of the change not from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), but through 4 Sikh air travelers who were subject to mandatory turban pat downs during the past two weeks. While the TSA acknowledges a change in policy has occurred, it has declined to provide details of the policy change for professed security reasons.

The new procedures are in direct contradiction to a detailed turban screening policy that has been in place since November 2001. Shortly after the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. Sikh community groups worked closely with Department of Transportation officials to devise an airport screening protocol that would meet national security requirements, while safeguarding religious pluralism.

The Sikh Coalition is very concerned that a policy affecting millions of Sikh air travelers went into effect without any community group input. The resulting procedure revokes longstanding regulations on which our community has come to depend, and opens to door to legitimizing practices undermine religious pluralism. [Sikh Coalition Press Release]

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