Friday, August 31, 2007

Note to Hijabis

You may want to start showing up even earlier to your flights, here's why:

Dear Friends,

As some of you may be aware, we learned late last week that the Transportation Security Administration has changed its airport screening procedures as of August 4, 2007. The sudden change in policy includes, as we understand it, mandatory secondary screening for all travelers wearing any form of headgear - including religious headdress. In addition, secondary screenings of religious headdress are now permitted even if a passenger has already been cleared by a metal detector.

Millions of Sikh, Muslim, South Asian, and Jewish passengers worldwide will be affected by the new process. Still, the TSA not only sprung this on our communities without warning, but now refuses to inform the public of what the new policy entails, on the grounds of security concerns. It took Sikh Coalition staff members almost 36 hours simply to get a confirmation that the policy had indeed been changed, let alone details of the new procedure.

To ensure that our community was not taken by surprise, as we were last week, the Sikh Coalition sent out the attached advisory to our listserv this weekend. We have also included guidelines on what people can do if they are asked to submit to a heightened search of their turbans / religious headdress. As discussed in the advisory, we hope to have more information on this issue in the coming days, and certainly before the end of this week.

Once we have had a chance to review any information we receive from the TSA/DHS, we may be calling on all of you to join us in fighting this policy change. We will let you know as soon as possible what that might entail. In the meantime, should you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me at 212.655.3095 (ext. 84).

Kind regards,

Neha Singh
Advocacy Director / Staff Attorney
The Sikh Coalition

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