German minister says no to Israeli-style passengers profiling

Incoming head of Germany`s airport industry association proposed profiling.

Berlin: Germany`s justice minister on Wednesday shot down proposals by the incoming head of the country`s airports association for Israeli-style passenger profiling to improve security checks.

"Passengers could be stigmatised if they are systematically sorted into different groups based on their origin or religion," Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told the Frankfurter Rundschau daily.

Yakup Tufan, head of the German Council of Muslims, was also unimpressed, telling the Rheinische Post daily it would lead to "discrimination of whole sections of the population" and would in any case be ineffective.

Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger also said that the proposals, made on Tuesday by Christoph Blume, head of the ADV German Airports Association from January, might fall foul of German and European law.

Blume had said Germany should consider Israeli-style profiling of passengers to improve time-consuming and costly security checks beefed up after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States and other incidents.

"Passengers (in Israel) are put into various risk groups," he told the Rheinische Post daily.

"Safe customers on whom there is sufficient data and who regularly fly the same route are not checked as much as passengers on whom there is little or no data."

Israel`s strict airport screening, applied for decades at the country`s Ben Gurion international airport and by Israeli airlines abroad, is based in part on the ethnicity of passengers.

It entails assessing the risk posed by a passenger according to nationality, background and behaviour. Israeli security agents consider Arab or Muslim travellers as potentially high threats.