World Sikh Organization Slams US-TSA Ethnic profiling of Sikh Community

    OTTAWA, Aug. 30 /CNW Telbec/ - The World Sikh Organization (WSO)
expresses concern over the recent policy change by the US Transport Security
Administration (TSA) which specifically includes the turban as an example of
something that could be used to hide non-metallic threat items and allows for
secondary screening and pat-downs. While it appreciates the utmost need to
ensure security for all air travellers, WSO is concerned that the specific
targeting of the turban as a security threat, is biased and discriminatory.
    The turban is one of the most visible and significant markers of the Sikh
faith. The turban symbolizes spirituality, gender equality, and honour. Sikhs
consider it a grievous insult for someone to touch or remove another's turban.
The new TSA policy seriously undermines religious freedoms, and is
discriminatory as it targets members of the Sikh faith for no legitimate
    The TSA's specific targeting of Sikh passengers who have passed through
normal security screening, is wrong-headed, and shows a distinctive lack of
sensitivity or fairness on the part of TSA officials. The TSA's view that
non-metallic objects could be hidden inside a Turban, hence the need for
secondary screening, is founded on a fear which is imagined rather than real.
    Says WSO (International) President, Ram Raghbir Singh Chahal, "If the TSA
is to be believed that non-metallic objects which risk the safety of air
travellers, can be concealed inside one's Turban, then surely this also
applies to non-metallic objects which could be hidden in a passenger's
clothing? Is the TSA also going to authorize an automatic strip search of all
air travellers?"
    The WSO further questions why, if the TSA is truly committed to "equal"
treatment of all air travellers, and is not involving itself in "ethnic
profiling", nun's habits or priests' gowns are not also specifically mentioned
as clothing which could contain offensive 'non-metallic' objects.
    TSA needs to suspend the new screening policy and work with the Sikh
community to create fair and unbiased screening directives which respect and
protect the religious rights of Sikh passengers.
    WSO has written to Secretary of US Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and
is awaiting his response.

For further information:

For further information: Jasbeer Singh, Media Relations, (780) 457-3333,
Cell.: (780) 235-6000,; Gian Singh Sandhu, (250)

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