A new directive issued January 3rd by the Transportation Security Administration, went into effect on January 4th of 2010.
The directive is a result of the foiled Christmas day bombing attempt, by Umar Farouk Abdul Muttalab of a Northwest flight, after it landed in Detroit. The measure mandates enhanced security screening of all passengers travelling to the US, from or through a country that is suspected of sponsoring terrorism. The countries named are Afghanistan, Algeria, Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The new measure includes the screening of passengers who have the looks of a potential suspect. The majority populations of the countries mentioned, are Muslim and the directive is tantamount to racial and ethnic profiling.
The new security measure permeates the privacy of not just Muslim women, but women in general, by the use body scanners at the airports. While upholding the importance of tight security, Edina Lekovic of MPAC, the Muslim Public Affairs Council said “…unless the TSA can guarantee the proper handling of such a private issue, the practice may end up violating the civil rights of women” .The John and Ken segment of KFI AM640, a popular talk radio station in southern California, raised concern of possible violations by TSA staff with other motives when it comes to celebrities passing through the scanners.
The TSA`s signaling of enhanced security measures sends a green light to other establishments in the country to adopt similar practices that are unconstitutional. The Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences has already adopted a policy to ban Muslim women from wearing their veils.
Due to the irrational actions of a few, even Umaru Muttalab will be subject to a pat down and body scan, despite the fact that he performed an Islamic duty of reporting his own son the US authorities.