The largest organization of American Sikhs has expressed outrage at a new U.S. airport security policy that it said allows arbitrary searches of turbans, a sacred headdress in that religion.
The Sikh Coalition said Saturday it had been informed by the Transportation Security Administration that under its new guidelines, turbans could be subject to manual pat-downs even if their wearers had passed a metal detector test.
“The policy allows screeners to single out travelers on the basis of their religion,” said Amardeep Singh, executive director of the Sikh Coalition, adding that the new TSA policy tells the public that “people who wear turbans are dangerous.”
TSA spokeswoman Lara Uselding acknowledged that on Aug. 4 the agency revised its screening procedures for head coverings but denied religious discrimination was involved. The new headwear policy also covers cowboy hats and some berets.
“TSA does not conduct ethnic or religious profiling and employs multiple checks and balances to ensure profiling does not happen,” she said.