Wednesday, August 29, 2007

New DHS Rules Let Screeners Search Sikhs' Turbans For Explosives

The United Sikh Coalition has complained to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security about a newly implemented policy at airports that gives screeners discretion to ask Sikhs to remove their turbans for a security search, even if the wearer has not set off a metal detector. Authorities are concerned about detecting plastic explosives. The Argus (Alameda County, CA) reports today that the new DHS rules took effect Aug. 4, and are seen by Sikhs as racial profiling, even though screeners are also permitted to search travelers wearing cowboy hats or straw hats. Sikhs say that turbans do not lend themselves to hiding of explosive devices anymore than do skullcaps worn by Orthodox Jews-- a head covering that is not on the list of those that can be examined. The Sikh faith only permits the turban to be removed at home or in private.