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Sikhs warned of more turban screening in US

Last Updated: Friday, January 14, 2011 - 15:26

Washington: Already peeved by security
pat downs, Sikhs in the US have been warned that they could now face 100 per cent screening of their turbans at American airports as the new imaging technology cannot see through their `pagris`.

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 the airports.

"Sikhs should now expect to be secondarily screened 100
per cent 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, adding that its assessment is based on feedback from the
community and interaction with officials of the TSA and
Department of Homeland Security.

The Sikh Coalition rejects the TSA`s policy as "unfair
and unsafe," and is working with key lawmakers to change it,
the group said. "Even still, in the meantime, we believe that
Sikh travellers should at least know what to expect at
American airports," it said in its the alert.
"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.


First Published: Friday, January 14, 2011 - 15:26

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