Sikh's to go through TSA turban search in USA-India
Special screening of turbans in US
Published: Friday, Jan 14, 2011, 22:44 IST
Place: Washington, DC | Agency: PTI
Already peeved by security pat downs, Sikhs in the
US have been warned that they could now face
100% screening of their turbans at American airports
as the new imaging technology cannot see through
In a mass email alert to the community members,
Sikh Coalition, an advocacy group, told them that
they should be ready for additional screening at all
“Sikhs should now expect to be secondarily screened
100% of the time at American airports, even after
passing through so-called Advanced Imaging
Technology (AIT) machines,” it said.
Although the Transport and Security Administration (TSA) publicly asserts on its website that
its newest machines can see through “layers of clothing,” the TSA has made clear in both word
and practice that such machines are not powerful enough to see through Sikh turbans.
“This means that, for Sikhs, the new machines will lead to more — not less — screening of
turbans,” Sikh Coalition said.
The Sikh Coalition rejects the TSA’s policy as unfair and unsafe, and is working with key
lawmakers to change it, the group said.
“Because the machine cannot see through your turban, your turban must first go through a
pat-down (either self-administered or administered by a TSA screener) to scan for non-metallic
threat items. After this procedure is finished, your turban will now also be subjected to a
hand-held metal detector wand search to scan for metallic threat items,” says the revised
travel guideline issued by Sikh Coalition.
“Please keep in mind that you can always pat-down your own turban. Your turban should
also not be ordered removed unless a screener detects something dangerous in your turban
either at the pat-down or metal-detecting stage. To avoid false alarms, we recommend that
you wash your hands before entering the screening area,” it said.
According to the TSA, if a person’s turban or hands trigger an alarm during explosive trace
detection sampling, the person will be required to undergo private screening and remove the
turban to resolve the concern, Sikh Coalition said in its guidelines.
Amid concerns voiced by Sikhs in the US over their enhanced screening at airports because
of their turbans, four key lawmakers asked authorities to quickly address the issue to avoid
undue inconvenience to the community members.
In a letter to TSA head John S Pistole, the four US lawmakers urged him to not only address
the concerns of the Sikh community about the additional screening they have been facing
because of their pagri or head gear, but also the “bulky” clothing, which was cited as a reason
for the pat down of Meera Shankar, Indian ambassador to the US, last year.