South Asian bodies worried over new US security procedures

January 7th, 2010 - 11:24 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 7 (IANS) Several South Asian organizations have expressed serious concerns regarding the new screening standards for air travellers to US saying these will lead to the racial and religious profiling of passengers from certain countries and religious faiths.
Under the new procedures announced by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) after the Christmas Day terror attack on a US airliner, all passengers travelling to the US from 14 countries are subject to heightened security screenings, including full-body pat-downs and luggage searches.

The countries on the list are Pakistan, Afghanistan, Algeria, Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

“The new standards will undoubtedly lead to the targeting of passengers from Muslim-majority countries,” the South Asian organisations said in a joint stament. “Rather than developing more effective policies that focus on behaviour, the new standards categorically target individuals for additional scrutiny based upon ethnicity, religion, and country of origin.”

“Moreover, the measures promote existing misperceptions about these communities as threats to security and harm the US government’s reputation, both domestically and abroad, towards ensuring civil rights and equality,” they said.

“These standards continue a pattern of profiling that our communities have endured since Sep 11, 2001,” they said urging TSA, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Administration not to rely upon profiling tactics in developing and implementing policies aimed at protecting America’s safety.

Organizations endorsing the statement included Chhaya CDC, Coney Island Avenue Project, Maitri, Shakti Peer Group, The Sikh Coalition, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), South Asian Network and United Sikhs.

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