Sikh Coalition Responds to the TSA's New Screening Policy for Religious Head Covering
Coalition is Cautiously Optimistic, But Calls on TSA to Implement Safeguards Against Profiling
Under the new policy, religious headwear will not be patted down unless the traveler permits it. Instead, a Sikh, or any person wearing religious headwear can pat down his or her own head covering, and then have their hands swabbed with a cotton cloth to check for chemical residue.
The Sikh Coalition nevertheless remains concerned that screeners have sole discretion to decide when to perform additional screening. Screeners may pull aside passengers for additional screening if they believe the person's head covering to be "bulky." While the TSA has assured us that trainings and supervisor oversight will stem improper use of this discretion, the Sikh Coalition is unconvinced that this is the best solution. We are encouraging the TSA to collect data with regards to additional screenings in
We are also concerned that Sikh travelers have to assert that they do not want their turbans touched by a screening officer. As we understand it, the TSA is not requiring screeners to inform passengers that they have a right to conduct a self-pat-down, although this is the stated policy.
"We are encouraged that the TSA has found a solution that does not single out turbans for additional screening. Indeed, it is possible to secure
Sikhism is the fifth largest world religion, with approximately 21 million adherents worldwide. Under the principals of their faith, Sikhs are mandated to leave all hair on their bodies uncut, wrapping the hair on their heads under a turban. The turban is a required article of the Sikh faith, and removing a Sikh's turban at a security checkpoint is equivalent to strip searching the person in public.
The Sikh Coalition is the nation's largest Sikh civil rights organization. It was created shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001, in response to the widespread harassment, beating and even killing of Sikhs misidentified as Islamic terrorists. The Coalition has represented Sikhs in a number of legal actions involving their articles of faith, including employment discrimination, hate crimes, and access to public places.
You are subscribed to this list as email@example.com. Click here to unsubscribe, or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our postal address is
40 Exchange Place
New York, New York 10005