Transportation secretary meets with American Muslims
Representatives of the American Muslim and Arab-American community met today with Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta to discuss a variety of issues related to airline safety and
security, including that of racial, ethnic and religious profiling of passengers.
Muslim and Arab groups represented at the two-hour meeting included the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) and the Islamic Institute.
Representatives from the Japanese-American and Sikh communities also attended today’s meeting.
CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad made a presentation to Secretary Mineta outlining the more than 90 cases of airline passenger profiling that have been reported to that group’s civil rights department. (These reports included incidents in which pregnant women were poked to check their pregnancies.) Awad suggested the creation of a civil rights advisory panel for airline security along with sensitivity training for security personnel.
CAIR has received more than 900 reports of anti-Muslim incidents, ranging from verbal harassment to murder, since the terrorist attacks of September 11. Many of these incidents have involved those who, like Sikhs and Christian Arabs, who are perceived to be Muslims or “Middle Eastern-looking.”
“Passenger profiling should be rejected not only because it violates American values of equality and justice, but because it also creates a false sense of security for the traveling public,” said CAIR Board Chairman
“It is important that we improve airport safety by increasing the level of training and professionalism for those who screen passengers and by applying heightened security measures to all travelers, not just to those who fit a stereotypical image of what a terrorist should look like,” said Ahmad.