Sikhs, Muslims seek end to racial profiling

June 18th, 2010 - 8:54 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 18 (IANS) Sikh, Muslim and African-American groups have related stories of being racially profiled across the US to lawmakers as they explored potential legislation to stop the practice.

“It’s not fair. It’s not safe,” said Amarjeet Singh, programme director of Sikh Coalition, appearing before the house judiciary subcommittee Thursday for what the Sikh advocacy group said was the first time they had testified about profiling before the US Congress.

Amarjeet Singh told the story of how his 18-month old son, Azaad Singh, cried when he was taken into the glass enclosure at the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, airport for extra screening.

“He was patted down. His bag was searched. And then the security officer went through his prized possessions: his first Elmo book, his second Elmo book, his mini-mail truck.

“My son and my community are being effectively collectively punished and there is no actual law enforcement benefit in exchange for this collective punishment. We are profiling Sikhs and we are losing as a result,” Singh said.

“We need this subcommittee and this Congress to put an end to this senseless and dangerous dynamic if our law enforcement leaders who profess an aversion to profiling cannot,” he argued.

Panel member Judy Chu from California presented written testimony on behalf of United Sikhs, another advocacy group that addressed the concerns of racial profiling of Sikhs at US airports.

“Unfortunately, as our community knows, Sikhs have routinely faced discriminatory practices at airports across the US,” the group said, focusing on racial profiling geared toward Transportation Security Administration policies that unfairly targeted Sikhs.

“Racial profiling threatens the very fabric of our nation’s civil rights protections,” said Chu.

Witnesses proposed that Congress require studies to document how often particular groups of victims are stopped or arrested and whether they were threats to the US. Legislation also should provide for legal redress for those who were wronged.

Muslim Advocates executive director Farhana Khera told of a Muslim man from metro Detroit who said he was profiled and harassed by federal agents at the US-Canada border.

“Law-abiding American Muslims have experienced increasing levels of discriminatory, invasive and abusive conduct by federal agents in the years since 9/11, whether travelling across our nation’s borders or while being interviewed in their living rooms by FBI agents,” it said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at

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