Sikhs Angered Over New TSA Hat-Checking Policy

WCBS-TV (New York), August 30, 2007

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 religious or 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.

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Others see where the system is skewed, however.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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