Posted by: Singh Is King | Tuesday, August 28, 2007

No Change at UK Airports for Turban Screening

London , UK – The Department of Transport UK has confirmed to UNITED SIKHS that there is no change in the existing procedures for screening Turban wearing Sikhs at UK airports. As before, if an Archway Metal Detector ( AMD ) alarm is set off, a hand held wand is used to resolve the alarm.

UNITED SIKHS calls upon Sikhs who encounter random turban screening at airports to request that the screening is done in private. In order to help us provide feedback to the authorities, please email us the details of your experience at turbanscreening@unitedsikhs.org and state ‘Reporting Turban Screening’ in the subject column

An official from the Transport Security and Emergency Committee (TRANSEC), which draws up security guidelines for UK airports, said that they have no need to pat down a Sikh turban because a hand held wand is sufficient to determine the source of the alarm.

Sikhs around the world have been concerned, since the briefing in the US on Thursday, that under the revised Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines , a Sikh Turban could be subject to random patting down at US airports, even if metal detectors are not set off. Under the original Federal Aviation Administration guidelines , which were formulated after consulting the US Sikh community, a Sikh Turban was only patted down to resolve a scanner alarm.

sikh-turban.jpg

The TRANSEC (UK) official, who asked not to be named, said, “We have no procedures for patting down Sikh turbans at UK airports because there is no need for it. We have not had an untoward incident with a Sikh man’s turban. Why would we have procedures for patting down a Sikh’s turban?”The TRANSEC official added, “Any passenger can be hand-searched at random. But when the passenger is a Sikh we use a hand-held metal detector in the vicinity of the turban.”

He added that if the hand-held wand bleeps when it is waved above a Sikh’s Turban, he would be requested to untie his Turban in a private area and the search would be conducted with dignity. A Turban is worn by Sikhs to cover their unshorn hair, an article of the Sikh faith. A Sikh considers a Turban to be an integral part of his/her being, and not a piece of clothing.

Kevin Donovan of the US Transportation Security Administration ( TSA ) told Sikh organisations present at the briefing in Washington DC that the new procedures were necessary due to an emerging threat of improvised explosive devices (IED) and chemical weapons hidden under head coverings. The turban, as well as cowboy and baseball hats, were specifically referred to in the revised procedures. The Jewish yarmulke is unaffected by the new procedures. Mr Donovan added that it is up to TSA security personnel to determine if a Sikh Turban will be patted down.

UNITED SIKHS, and other US Sikh civil rights organisations which attended the briefing, objected to the lack of consultation and prior briefing. The TSA has agreed to hold a further meeting with the Sikh organisations in order to draw up guidelines to ensure that the patting down procedure is not arbitrary and discriminatory.

UNITED SIKHS calls upon Sikhs who encounter random turban screening at an airport to request that the screening is done in private. In order to help us provide feedback to the authorities, please email us the details of your experience at turbanscreening@unitedsikhs.org and state ‘Reporting Turban Screening’ in the subject column.

To read the press release on the revised FAA guidelines for US airports, please go to http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-23-08-2007-00.htm

Issued by :

Mejindarpal Kaur
Director
International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy
UNITED SIKHS

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