CAIR Travel Advisory on TSA and Religious Head Wear

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently changed its policy regarding searches of travelers wearing head coverings such as Islamic scarves or Sikh turbans.

CAIR is urging airline passengers of all faiths to educate themselves about their legal rights and encouraging the following:

1. Please remain calm and courteous during the process.
2. Request that the screener check the head wear with a wand rather than with a pat-down process, explaining that the head wear is a religious article of great importance.
3. If the screener cannot oblige ask that the second screening take place in a private room with screeners of the same gender. Travelers have the right to request such accommodation.
4. If you believe you have been singled out solely based on your race, religion or ethnicity, contact CAIR-Chicago at (312) 212-1520, or contact

SEE: Know Your Legal Rights as an Airline Passenger (CAIR)

CAIR is a signatory to a Sikh Coalition petition to DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff on the issue of religious profiling.

SEE: Stop Religious Profiling in US Airports

The TSA statement on concerns about the civil liberties implications of the new policy says:

“On August 4, 2007, TSA implemented revisions to its screening procedures for head coverings. TSA does not conduct ethnic or religious profiling, and employs multiple checks and balances to ensure profiling does not happen.

“All members of the traveling public are permitted to wear head coverings (whether religious or not) through the security checkpoints. The new standard procedures subject all persons wearing head coverings to the possibility of additional security screening, which may include a pat-down search of the head covering. Individuals may be referred for additional screening if the TSO cannot reasonably determine that the head area is free of a detectable threat item. If the issue cannot be resolved through a pat-down search, the individual will be offered the opportunity to remove the head covering in a private screening area.

“TSA’s security procedures, including the procedures for screening head coverings, are designed to ensure the security of the traveling public. These procedures are part of TSA’s multi-layered approach to security screening.”

SEE: TSA Releases Statement on New Airport Screening Procedures

SEE: CAIR-Chicago Feature: “Civil Rights Organizations Question New TSA Policy on Head Wear

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