Balanced cultural understanding needed in airport processes

A lack of equality only leads to a greater lack of equality, and ongoing cultural and racial victimization is only going to...

A lack of equality only leads to a greater lack of equality, and ongoing cultural and racial victimization is only going to lead to more problems in the future.

In an ultra-globalized world, with the terrorist group ISIS reminding the world of its presence at every turn, it’s not surprising national and airport security are in a state of turmoil.

Having recently read an article in The Guardian titled The Perils of Flying while Muslim it was difficult to believe the blatant, racist nerve of some people.

There is a line differentiating vigilance and security, and victimizing others with racial profiling.

The Perils of Flying while Muslim chronicles many stories of Muslim treatment in airports around the world.

Such stories include that of: Hasan Aldewachi, who was allegedly detained for several hours after another passenger complained he was texting in Arabic; a Muslim couple were removed from a flight when a crew member complained she was wearing a headscarf and he was sweating, they also used the word Allah; mental health worker Faizah Shaheen was detained and questioned by police after being spotted reading a book about Syria; University of Pennsylvania economics professor Guido Menzio was expelled from a flight after the mathematical equations he was working on alarmed another passenger.

There are hundreds upon hundreds of other similar stories, but in these few instances it’s easy to see the actions of each individual were not alarming. As a white redhead I can’t imagine anyone would feel the need to get close enough to see what language I was texting in. For wearing a headscarf I’d probably be nailed for cultural appropriation before terrorism and sweating would most likely cause mild disgust rather than terror by any crewmembers. I like to keep myself educated on current and world events and own two books about ISIS. Truth be told I don’t know what would happen if I tried to read either on a plane but reading is not a crime; and Shaheen was only reading a book about Syrian art. As for complicated math I do not believe I would be feared a terrorist for working on some on a plane. Looking at it from that point of view the actions of the wrongfully fearful seem ridiculous and disappointing.

It doesn’t seem like any county’s airport, and by extension governing laws, has found the much-needed balance between security and cultural persecution.

If one googles the terms “American airports” and “Muslims” the first page of result almost all relate to racial targeting, profiling and the difficulties Muslims face while travelling.

Canada on the other hands seems to have ventured to the other end of the spectrum and googling those same terms replacing American with Canadian has the first results relating to whether or not Muslim women should be required to lift the veil of the niqab for identification purposes while going through airport security.

The answer is yes, they should have to. Any place I’m required to formally and photographically identify myself so should they. In this instance it has nothing to do with racial profiling.

Canada does not have an explicit separation of church and state in its constitution but the law is the law and requirement to follow it in a country one chooses to visit or live in is not an attack on personal religion.

Transport Canada deems there should be no confusion and that airlines must be able to identify all passengers before they board the aircraft.

However, the law can be enforced kindly without intimidation until the need for just and justifiable heightened action is warranted on an individual basis, not a cultural basis.

Amelia Naismith is the reporter for The Pipestone Flyer. She writes a regular column for the paper.

 

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