- The Washington Times - Friday, January 18, 2002

CHICAGO (UPI) A Muslim American woman represented by the American Civil Liberties Union is suing an airport security company and the Illinois National Guard for damages after she was strip-searched at O'Hare International Airport.
Samar Kaukab, 22, said she was a victim of racial profiling and a humiliating search as she headed for a United Airlines flight to Columbus, Ohio, Nov. 7 after attending a Volunteers In Service to America conference in Chicago. The young woman of Pakistani descent wears a traditional Muslim head wrap called a hijab.
The suit, filed in federal court Wednesday, claimed she was stopped solely because of her dress, ethnicity and religion.
Miss Kaukab, a U.S. citizen, said she was asked by an employee of Argenbright Security and a member of the National Guard to remove her head scarf after she had passed through a metal detector without setting off the alarm.
A screener then ran a metal-detecting hand wand over her boots, pants and sweater also without triggering an alarm. Miss Kaukab said she was then asked to remove her hijab but refused to comply in front of male guards because of her religious beliefs. She was taken to a private room and searched by two female security guards who opened her clothing, fingered through her hair and searched her body beneath her underwear, the suit said.
"I felt everything from being scared to being humiliated to being aggravated," Miss Kaukab said. Argenbright, an Atlanta-based security company that provides screeners at 17 major airports, said it was investigating the incident.
The ACLU said security screeners need more training, especially in cultural sensitivity.
"Muslims understand the need to reasonably scrutinize airline passengers of all regions and races who set off metal detectors," Miss Kaukab's attorney, Kamran Memon, told the Chicago Tribune. "Muslims absolutely do not understand strip searching and humiliating a Muslim woman solely because of her Islamic clothing and appearance."

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