Profiling woes prompt FAA airline screening directive

WASHINGTON: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has provided

directives to airlines - many of which have endured public accusations

of racism - about their standards for screening passengers for potential

terrorist threats.

"The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 have raised concerns about

intimidation, harassment, and bias directed at individuals who are, or

are perceived to be, of Arab, Middle Eastern or South Asian descent,

and/or Muslim or Sikh," read the FAA fact sheet.

Lawsuits have been filed against airlines by several passengers when

they were allegedly prevented from flying for reasons based solely on

racial profiling. American and United Airlines are among the carriers

named in the lawsuits.

Several of the issues raised in the directives concern the headgear worn

by Sikhs. There have been complaints that Sikhs have been forced to

remove their headgear even when they did not set off the security


The directive, dated November 19, goes on to state that no person should

be prevented from boarding or removed from an aircraft solely because

they have a certain ethnic appearance or speak a foreign language.

The guidelines also say that if metal detectors are set off, or

passengers fail to provide adequate proof of identification, that may be

grounds for further search measures. The document also states that

female passengers should be checked by female security personnel in

private, "or in the presence of other women so as not to violate her

religious tenets."

Paul Takemoto, an FAA spokesman, said that he was not allowed to discuss

details about security directives.

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