UNITED SIKHS

Please Be Involved, Click here and Join UNITED SIKHS

To receive forthcoming bulletins join our UNITED SIKHS Yahoo group

To donate go to www.unitedsikhs.org/donate

This Press Release may be read online at: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-01-09-2007-00.htm

Press Release: 1st September 2007, 17th Bhadon (Samvat 539 Nanakshahi)

PRESS RELEASE

TSA Plans to Meet Sikhs Next Week on Turban Screening

TSA Acting Special Counselor Reassures UNITED SIKHS about Increased Turban Screening at US Airports

Washington DC - UNITED SIKHS was contacted yesterday by the Transportation Security Administration's ( TSA ) Acting Special Counselor, Kimberley Walton, who said that the TSA is keen to meet the Sikh community as early as next week to discuss concerns about increased turban screening at airports.

UNITED SIKHS exhorts the Sikh community to report any of their experiences, especially at the San Francisco airport, during this long weekend holiday. A report may be submitted at www.unitedsikhs.org/turbanscreeningform

These complaints will be forwarded to the TSA during our forthcoming meeting. The original and revised Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Guidelines can be read at http://www.unitedsikhs.org/FAAGuidelines.pdf

You may listen to the public views on the new turban screening procedures at www.unitedsikhs.org/turbanscreening/views

Ms Walton said that last Friday the TSA issued a clarification to all screening officers in response to the concerns expressed by the Sikh community.

“We welcome the TSA 's stance to accommodate the Sikh community and we look forward to meeting them before the end of next week. We have requested that we meet a high-level TSA delegation who can give us the answers to our questions” said Harpreet Singh, UNITED SIKHS legal director.

Harpreet Singh informed Ms Kimberley that the Sikh community needs to be reassured that under the revised security guidelines, a turban wearing Sikh is not subject to a hand search more than anyone else travelling through US airports.

On Aug 4th, the TSA implemented revised Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines at US airports which involved the patting down of a Sikh Turban even if a scanner alarm was not set off. Under the original Federal Aviation Administration guidelines , which were formulated after consulting the Sikh community, a Sikh Turban was only patted down to resolve a scanner alarm.

Yesterday, the TSA issued a statement on their website which said: “ He ( TSA Administrator, Kip Hawley) expressed understanding about the sensitivity and importance of the Sikh head dress screening. He said TSA takes their concerns seriously and is interested in reaching a workable solution that does not compromise security. TSA will implement additional cultural awareness training for its transportation security officers and will continue dialogue with Sikhs and other groups.”

UNITED SIKHS will raise the following concerns during the meeting with the TSA next week:

  1. We would like the TSA to justify the revised guidelines by satisfying the Sikh community that there is an emerging threat from non-metallic objects being hidden specifically under a turban, as opposed to under any other apparel. That is, we would like the TSA to satisfy the Sikh community why there is no need to pat down travellers' other clothings (shirts, trousers, etc) that could hide these non-metallic threat objects
  2. We would like the TSA to satisfy the Sikh community that they 'cannot reasonably determine' by a less intrusive means, other than by patting down a Turban, 'that the head area is free from a detectable threat item'.
  3. If the TSA cannot satisfy the Sikh community of 1 and 2 above, the original FAA guidelines should be used
  4. We would like to assist the TSA with Sikh cultural/religious sensitivity training
  5. Whilst turban pat-downs continue, a private screening area should be provided to Sikhs for the screening.

“Until the above concerns are met, we are by no means out of the woods as the turban screening procedures continue to be in place,” Harpreet Singh added.

To date UNITED SIKHS has received about a dozen complaints from the public about the patting–down of the turban at airports, several from the San Francisco airport.

A renowned Sikh religious minister, Bhai Amolak Singh of Sydney , wrote to UNITED SIKHS about his unpleasant experience at the San Francisco airport
on Aug 17th:
“I went through security without a beep, but still I was asked for a random check up, which they mentioned that they would tap my turban. I objected and asked for the supervisor. He also told me in the same way, "Do you want to travel or not?” In the middle of the night, I was given no choice, as I had to get back home to Sydney ,” Mr Amolak Singh said in his email to UNITED SIKHS.

Mr Amolak Singh said he, however, had faced no turban patting during his flights through the airports at Los Angeles , New York , Chicago and Vancouver .

UNITED SIKHS exhorts t he Sikh community to report any of their experiences, especially at the San Francisco airport, during this long holiday weekend. A report may be submitted at www.unitedsikhs.org/turbanscreeningform .These complaints will be forwarded to the TSA during our forthcoming meeting. The original and revised Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Guidelines can be read at http://www.unitedsikhs.org/FAAGuidelines.pdf

You may read a previous press release on the increased turban screening at US airports at http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-23-08-2007-00.htm

You may listen to the public views on the new turban screening procedures at www.unitedsikhs.org/turbanscreening/views

Issued by
Kuldip Singh

Director
UNITED SIKHS
646 315 3909


Our Mission

To transform underprivileged and minority communities and individuals into informed and vibrant members of society through civic, educational and personal development programs, by fostering active participation in social and economic activity.

UNITED SIKHS is also an avenue for networking between like-minded organisations to establish and nurture meaningful projects and dialogues - whether social, cultural or political- to promote harmony, understanding and reciprocity in our villages, towns and cities.

UNITED SIKHS is a coalition of organisations and individuals, who share a common vision based on the belief that there is no greater endeavour than to serve, empower and uplift fellow beings. The core of our philosophy is an unwavering commitment to civic service and social progress on behalf of the common good.

Accordingly, UNITED SIKHS has sought to fulfil its mission not only by informing, educating and uplifting fellow beings but also by participating in cross-cultural and political exchanges to ensure that the promises and benefits of democracy are realized by all.

We at UNITED SIKHS believe that the development of enlightened and progressive societies can be made possible by socially conscious groups of people who make a commitment to develop and direct human potential. Our work, efforts and achievements stand as a testament to our faith in this vision.