What's scarier: snakes on a plane or Arabs in the airport?

Published February 11th, 2016 - 20:16 GMT

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Reports of racial and religious profiling of Muslims and people of Middle Eastern descent are sharply rising at airports across America, as anti-Islamic sentiment following the terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino triggers a new wave of discrimination.

Workers from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have long been accused of unfairly questioning, searching, and detaining passengers simply for “looking” Muslim, earning their own comic (or tragic?) hashtag #SH!TTSASAYS. Now airline and airport workers and fellow passengers are joining in. Since when has "flying while Arab" become a punishable offense? Continue reading below »

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In November, a woman and three men of Middle East descent were taken off a Spirit Airlines flight for “suspicious activity” after a passenger claimed she saw one of the men receive a text that said 'dynamite' and a code for an Indian airport. It turned out one of the men was simply watching the news on his phone as he waited to fly to Chicago.
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Image 1 of 11:  1 / 11In November, a woman and three men of Middle East descent were taken off a Spirit Airlines flight for “suspicious activity” after a passenger claimed she saw one of the men receive a text that said 'dynamite' and a code for an Indian airport. It turned out one of the men was simply watching the news on his phone as he waited to fly to Chicago.

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Later that month, two Palestinian-Americans were barred from boarding in Philadelphia when another traveler complained because they were talking in Arabic. Maher Khalil was chatting with a friend while waiting to board a Southwest Airlines flight. Told at the gate they couldn't board, they called the police, and were finally allowed on.
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Image 2 of 11:  2 / 11Later that month, two Palestinian-Americans were barred from boarding in Philadelphia when another traveler complained because they were talking in Arabic. Maher Khalil was chatting with a friend while waiting to board a Southwest Airlines flight. Told at the gate they couldn't board, they called the police, and were finally allowed on.

Enlarge
In December, Sikh American Valarie Kaur boarded a Delta flight to LA to celebrate her son's first birthday. Inside her carry-on was a breast pump, which the nursing mom planned to use on-board. The bag roused suspicion in a white man who flagged a gate agent, and Kaur was asked to show her pump to everyone to “prove” she wasn’t a terrorist.
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Image 3 of 11:  3 / 11In December, Sikh American Valarie Kaur boarded a Delta flight to LA to celebrate her son's first birthday. Inside her carry-on was a breast pump, which the nursing mom planned to use on-board. The bag roused suspicion in a white man who flagged a gate agent, and Kaur was asked to show her pump to everyone to “prove” she wasn’t a terrorist.

Enlarge
Two Bangladeshi Muslims, one Arab Muslim, and one Indian Sikh who wears a turban were kicked off a flight from Toronto to New York City in December claim they were removed from the plane for “looking too Muslim.” The foursome recently filed a federal lawsuit against American Airlines.
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Image 4 of 11:  4 / 11Two Bangladeshi Muslims, one Arab Muslim, and one Indian Sikh who wears a turban were kicked off a flight from Toronto to New York City in December claim they were removed from the plane for “looking too Muslim.” The foursome recently filed a federal lawsuit against American Airlines.

Enlarge
News of that lawsuit came the same day as another incident when a passenger was pulled from a Delta Airlines flight from Orlando to New York because a woman seated near him complained he was acting “suspicious.” Another passenger began a real-time Twitstorm tweeting that the guy was removed just for being “brown.”
Reduce

Image 5 of 11:  5 / 11News of that lawsuit came the same day as another incident when a passenger was pulled from a Delta Airlines flight from Orlando to New York because a woman seated near him complained he was acting “suspicious.” Another passenger began a real-time Twitstorm tweeting that the guy was removed just for being “brown.”

Enlarge
TSA guidelines require anyone traveling from or through 13 Muslim-majority nations to undergo enhanced screening before boarding. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)  suggested alternatives to ineffective religious profiling such as looking at behavior, not faith or skin color, and investing in better equipment and trained staff.
Reduce

Image 6 of 11:  6 / 11TSA guidelines require anyone traveling from or through 13 Muslim-majority nations to undergo enhanced screening before boarding. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) suggested alternatives to ineffective religious profiling such as looking at behavior, not faith or skin color, and investing in better equipment and trained staff.

Enlarge
Hashtag #SHITTSASAYS puts a high-beam on the US Transportation Security Administration’s ludicrous mistreatment of flying Muslims. If you can't fit your story in a tweet, send it on to award-winning blog MuslimGirl.net. The site's founder, 24-year-old Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, busts negative myths about Muslim women in an immensely readable way.
Reduce

Image 7 of 11:  7 / 11Hashtag #SHITTSASAYS puts a high-beam on the US Transportation Security Administration’s ludicrous mistreatment of flying Muslims. If you can't fit your story in a tweet, send it on to award-winning blog MuslimGirl.net. The site's founder, 24-year-old Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, busts negative myths about Muslim women in an immensely readable way.

Enlarge
#SH!TTSASAYS 1: A female TSA agent stopped to pat down the head of MuslimGirl guest blogger Zanah Ghalawanji, asking, 'So, what do you have under there?” After Ghalawanji explained it was a flower-shaped hair clip beneath the veil, she was let through with a dirty look.
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Image 8 of 11:  8 / 11#SH!TTSASAYS 1: A female TSA agent stopped to pat down the head of MuslimGirl guest blogger Zanah Ghalawanji, asking, "So, what do you have under there?” After Ghalawanji explained it was a flower-shaped hair clip beneath the veil, she was let through with a dirty look.

Enlarge
This cartoon is captioned, 'TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES!'  SH!TTSASAYS 2: Swiss-Lebanese journalist 'Mike B.' dropped a list of outrageous comments made to him by TSA agents, including, 'You’ve got a lot of electronics, must be all that oil money.”
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Image 9 of 11:  9 / 11This cartoon is captioned, "TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES!" SH!TTSASAYS 2: Swiss-Lebanese journalist "Mike B." dropped a list of outrageous comments made to him by TSA agents, including, "You’ve got a lot of electronics, must be all that oil money.”

Enlarge
You don't need to be profiled to experience security lunacy. @kaylaholic tweeted what one agent told her, 'The less you wear, the less likely we are to touch you. But don't get carried away.' @tweetaboutnada posted, 'Security told me to pat down my stomach. I said, 'It's not getting any flatter sir. I've been trying that method for years.''
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Image 10 of 11:  10 / 11You don't need to be profiled to experience security lunacy. @kaylaholic tweeted what one agent told her, "The less you wear, the less likely we are to touch you. But don't get carried away." @tweetaboutnada posted, "Security told me to pat down my stomach. I said, 'It's not getting any flatter sir. I've been trying that method for years.'"

Enlarge
Islam is the second largest world religion, claiming about 23 percent of humanity, and Muslims are in every race. So how do you profile nearly one in every four people in the world? CNN journalist Fareed Zakaria said it best, 'When you're trying to find a needle in a haystack, adding hay does not help you.'
Reduce

Image 11 of 11:  11 / 11Islam is the second largest world religion, claiming about 23 percent of humanity, and Muslims are in every race. So how do you profile nearly one in every four people in the world? CNN journalist Fareed Zakaria said it best, "When you're trying to find a needle in a haystack, adding hay does not help you."

Enlarge

1

In November, a woman and three men of Middle East descent were taken off a Spirit Airlines flight for “suspicious activity” after a passenger claimed she saw one of the men receive a text that said 'dynamite' and a code for an Indian airport. It turned out one of the men was simply watching the news on his phone as he waited to fly to Chicago.

Image 1 of 11In November, a woman and three men of Middle East descent were taken off a Spirit Airlines flight for “suspicious activity” after a passenger claimed she saw one of the men receive a text that said 'dynamite' and a code for an Indian airport. It turned out one of the men was simply watching the news on his phone as he waited to fly to Chicago.

2

Later that month, two Palestinian-Americans were barred from boarding in Philadelphia when another traveler complained because they were talking in Arabic. Maher Khalil was chatting with a friend while waiting to board a Southwest Airlines flight. Told at the gate they couldn't board, they called the police, and were finally allowed on.

Image 2 of 11Later that month, two Palestinian-Americans were barred from boarding in Philadelphia when another traveler complained because they were talking in Arabic. Maher Khalil was chatting with a friend while waiting to board a Southwest Airlines flight. Told at the gate they couldn't board, they called the police, and were finally allowed on.

3

In December, Sikh American Valarie Kaur boarded a Delta flight to LA to celebrate her son's first birthday. Inside her carry-on was a breast pump, which the nursing mom planned to use on-board. The bag roused suspicion in a white man who flagged a gate agent, and Kaur was asked to show her pump to everyone to “prove” she wasn’t a terrorist.

Image 3 of 11In December, Sikh American Valarie Kaur boarded a Delta flight to LA to celebrate her son's first birthday. Inside her carry-on was a breast pump, which the nursing mom planned to use on-board. The bag roused suspicion in a white man who flagged a gate agent, and Kaur was asked to show her pump to everyone to “prove” she wasn’t a terrorist.

4

Two Bangladeshi Muslims, one Arab Muslim, and one Indian Sikh who wears a turban were kicked off a flight from Toronto to New York City in December claim they were removed from the plane for “looking too Muslim.” The foursome recently filed a federal lawsuit against American Airlines.

Image 4 of 11Two Bangladeshi Muslims, one Arab Muslim, and one Indian Sikh who wears a turban were kicked off a flight from Toronto to New York City in December claim they were removed from the plane for “looking too Muslim.” The foursome recently filed a federal lawsuit against American Airlines.

5

News of that lawsuit came the same day as another incident when a passenger was pulled from a Delta Airlines flight from Orlando to New York because a woman seated near him complained he was acting “suspicious.” Another passenger began a real-time Twitstorm tweeting that the guy was removed just for being “brown.”

Image 5 of 11News of that lawsuit came the same day as another incident when a passenger was pulled from a Delta Airlines flight from Orlando to New York because a woman seated near him complained he was acting “suspicious.” Another passenger began a real-time Twitstorm tweeting that the guy was removed just for being “brown.”

6

TSA guidelines require anyone traveling from or through 13 Muslim-majority nations to undergo enhanced screening before boarding. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)  suggested alternatives to ineffective religious profiling such as looking at behavior, not faith or skin color, and investing in better equipment and trained staff.

Image 6 of 11TSA guidelines require anyone traveling from or through 13 Muslim-majority nations to undergo enhanced screening before boarding. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) suggested alternatives to ineffective religious profiling such as looking at behavior, not faith or skin color, and investing in better equipment and trained staff.

7

Hashtag #SHITTSASAYS puts a high-beam on the US Transportation Security Administration’s ludicrous mistreatment of flying Muslims. If you can't fit your story in a tweet, send it on to award-winning blog MuslimGirl.net. The site's founder, 24-year-old Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, busts negative myths about Muslim women in an immensely readable way.

Image 7 of 11Hashtag #SHITTSASAYS puts a high-beam on the US Transportation Security Administration’s ludicrous mistreatment of flying Muslims. If you can't fit your story in a tweet, send it on to award-winning blog MuslimGirl.net. The site's founder, 24-year-old Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, busts negative myths about Muslim women in an immensely readable way.

8

#SH!TTSASAYS 1: A female TSA agent stopped to pat down the head of MuslimGirl guest blogger Zanah Ghalawanji, asking, 'So, what do you have under there?” After Ghalawanji explained it was a flower-shaped hair clip beneath the veil, she was let through with a dirty look.

Image 8 of 11#SH!TTSASAYS 1: A female TSA agent stopped to pat down the head of MuslimGirl guest blogger Zanah Ghalawanji, asking, "So, what do you have under there?” After Ghalawanji explained it was a flower-shaped hair clip beneath the veil, she was let through with a dirty look.

9

This cartoon is captioned, 'TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES!'  SH!TTSASAYS 2: Swiss-Lebanese journalist 'Mike B.' dropped a list of outrageous comments made to him by TSA agents, including, 'You’ve got a lot of electronics, must be all that oil money.”

Image 9 of 11This cartoon is captioned, "TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES!" SH!TTSASAYS 2: Swiss-Lebanese journalist "Mike B." dropped a list of outrageous comments made to him by TSA agents, including, "You’ve got a lot of electronics, must be all that oil money.”

10

You don't need to be profiled to experience security lunacy. @kaylaholic tweeted what one agent told her, 'The less you wear, the less likely we are to touch you. But don't get carried away.' @tweetaboutnada posted, 'Security told me to pat down my stomach. I said, 'It's not getting any flatter sir. I've been trying that method for years.''

Image 10 of 11You don't need to be profiled to experience security lunacy. @kaylaholic tweeted what one agent told her, "The less you wear, the less likely we are to touch you. But don't get carried away." @tweetaboutnada posted, "Security told me to pat down my stomach. I said, 'It's not getting any flatter sir. I've been trying that method for years.'"

11

Islam is the second largest world religion, claiming about 23 percent of humanity, and Muslims are in every race. So how do you profile nearly one in every four people in the world? CNN journalist Fareed Zakaria said it best, 'When you're trying to find a needle in a haystack, adding hay does not help you.'

Image 11 of 11Islam is the second largest world religion, claiming about 23 percent of humanity, and Muslims are in every race. So how do you profile nearly one in every four people in the world? CNN journalist Fareed Zakaria said it best, "When you're trying to find a needle in a haystack, adding hay does not help you."

Reduce

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