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
"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
Paul Takemoto, an FAA spokesman, said that he was not allowed to discuss
details about security directives.