23 February 2009

Humiliation at LAX

iEveryone has, by now, sen the new look of this blog. I wanted something that would highlight the 25 years since the horrors of 1984. If the dark background makes it hard to read, let me know. There exists a template like this one that has a white background. The blue is nice and Sikh, though, I think.

Here is the profile picture I will be using for a while, at least. It is taken from a T-shirt
and reminds me of this picture, another favourite of mine of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale .

On to the business of this post...
This just now appeared in my inbox. The TSA is at it again. I get the feeling that we are going to live with this legacy of 9/11 for a long, long time. A long walk to freedom, indeed.


(An aside: SALDEF is a really effective organisation. They deserve your support.)

Sikh Traveler Humiliated at Los Angeles Airport

SALDEF outraged by allegations of verbal abuse and inappropriate touching by TSA officials

Washington DC; February 23, 2009 – The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), the oldest Sikh American civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, has called upon the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to investigate allegations of bias-based harassment and inappropriate touching of a Sikh American traveler by TSA officials at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on the night of February 5, 2009.

Mr. Singh, whose full name is being kept confidential at this time, passed through a metal detector at LAX without setting off an alarm but was asked to step aside for secondary screening of his dastaar (Sikh turban). When he noted that a group of observant Jewish travelers in the line ahead of him were permitted to pass through security without removing their large religiously-mandated head coverings or submitting to secondary screening, a supervisor accused Mr. Singh of being uncooperative and reportedly told him: "I've been working here for a long time and know my sh*t. We don't tolerate this type of nonsense from people like you."

Mindful of his right to request non-invasive screening alternatives, Mr. Singh requested passage through a puffer machine but was refused this option. Instead, Mr. Singh was subjected to a full body pat-down, during which a TSA officer reportedly touched and squeezed his neck, arms, buttocks, legs, and genitals. Mr. Singh was ultimately asked to pat down his own turban and submit to a chemical swab of his hands.

"We are troubled by these allegations because they reinforce our concern that TSA is subjecting Sikh travelers to unequal treatment," said SALDEF Legal Director Rajdeep Singh Jolly. "Sikh American travelers deserve to be treated with respect and need to remain vigilant to ensure that their rights are not trampled."

In order to properly document additional incidents and ensure that TSA is properly implementing their screening protocols, SALDEF requests that all Sikh air travelers document their airport screening experiences. Your feedback will help us alert TSA to deficiencies and ensure that they are being respectful of the religious rights of all travelers.

If you experience any form of discrimination due to your Sikh identity, or if you notice individuals of other faiths who wear religious clothing being treated differently from you at airports and elsewhere, please report it immediately to SALDEF at mailto:legal@saldef.org?subject=Airport%20Screening%20Complaint or by calling 202-393-2700 ext 131.