In May, under European legislation, security staff were
told they could pat down and unravel a Sikh's turban if the
metal detector bleeped as they walked through.
But these powers were branded as unacceptable by the
religion's leaders in Britain and the Department of Transport
has had to act quickly.
Now the Department for Transport has been forced to issue
a memo to airports warning them to stop the searches.
Sikhs who set off alarms at airport body scanners will now
have their turban scanned by a hand held wand, and will only
be subjected to searches by hand if metal is detected in the
"On Thursday the Department for Transport advised all UK
airports to continue using the previous methods of screening
religious headwear, which eliminates the need to carry out
hand searches. We have reacted accordingly," a spokesperson
for the Birmingham International Airport was quoted as saying
by Daily Mail.
The decision comes after leading Sikhs branded the moves
"humiliating and offensive".
Dr Indarjit Singh, a British Sikh, and adviser to the
Commission for Racial Equality, said that the legislation was
"It is considered very offensive to remove or touch a
Sikh's turban, especially in public," he said.
"If there is a cause for concern, the individual
should be taken into a private place where they can be
properly searched, with the lightest possible touch."
Harmander Singh, principal adviser to Sikhs in England, said:
"Sikhs are being unfairly targeted. As far as I'm aware, there
haven't been any exploding turbans at airports yet.
"Just because Osama bin Laden chooses to wear one
doesn't mean that Sikhs should have to suffer."
Sikhs who set off alarms at airport body scanners will
now have their turban scanned by a hand-held wand, and will
only be subjected to searches by hand if metal is detected in
London: Bowing to pressure, Britain has
asked security staff at airports not to undertake humiliating
search of Sikh turbans as part of the security drill.
First Published: Friday, July 02, 2010, 17:34