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Muslims Confront Government over Travel Woes

c. 2011 Religion News Service

PARMA, Ohio (RNS) Government officials told Arab-Americans and Muslims that some post-9/11 security measures are easing, and acknowledged that Muslims are often subject to a higher degree of discrimination in travel.

The two groups met Saturday (April 30) following conversations between Steven Dettelbach, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and local Muslims and Arab-Americans.

Dettelbach said the idea was to air concerns. He acknowledged at the start that “there is a headwind of intolerance that is in the face of this community.”

Some of the 100 attendees expressed skepticism about the government’s sensitivity to their concerns. One man, who said he was of Syrian origin, said he does not look like an Arab and is frequently waved through security but companions who appear to be Arab are pulled aside.


Razan Reed, a Canadian U.S. citizen of Lebanese birth, complained at length that she and her family have been harassed while entering the U.S. because of her husband’s Islamic faith.

George Selim, a policy adviser with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, said the department has strict policies against racial profiling. He said the agency is sensitive to the rights of citizens and has taken great strides to streamline security procedures.

Selim and Dettelbach both noted that Homeland Security modified the cumbersome National Security Entry/Exit Registration System so that foreign nationals no longer have to register and be subjected to interviews every time they enter the United States.

(James Ewinger writes for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland.)

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nnmns

    We need a reasonable degree of safety, but making travel hell for Muslims or people with “strange” names in general probably makes us more enemies than it catches. We need a sophisticated system that works and is seamless for the “innocent”. With our technological sophistication such a system may be possible. I hope we are progressing toward it.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Henrietta22

    Apparently you don’t even have to be of Arab heritage or have a strange name. I watched a video of an ex U.S.A. Beauty title lady today, probably of Spanish heritage who travels a lot because of her work, she chooses to go through pat-downs because of the radiation question. Usually she said they are done fast and not intimately, but she hit one coming through Dallas, TX that did the vagina pat. She was very upset over this, as well she should be. It’s against her constitutional rights she feels. The well-known Dr. who everyone knows was the one interviewing her and he said he’s had TSA call him by name and still pat him down. Figure that. I decided the time that the man who had his urine bag busted by a TSA agent last year, that I will never fly again unless I win the lottery so I can hire a private jet. If I can’t go by car, train, or bus I won’t go.

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