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Muslim, Sikh, South Asian leaders demand end to racial profiling

 

Saturday, January 30, 2010 12:55:00 PM, Arun Kumar, IANS

Washington: Muslim, Arab, Sikh and South Asian American community leaders have raised the issue of racial, ethnic and religious profiling at airports and the border with the Obama administration.

 

The issue was raised during a meeting Thursday with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano called to discuss joint efforts against domestic violent extremists, according to Sikh Coalition, a community advocacy group.

 

Leaders from national and local organizations representing these communities welcomed commitments by Napolitano to promote meaningful, positive and authentic dialogue even as they expressed concern about profiling that has eroded the government's trust and credibility with the communities.

 

According to the coalition Napolitano made several commitments to community leaders, including community participation in an anti-violent extremism task force of the Homeland Security Advisory Council.

 

Also proposed were regular, quarterly meetings with the Secretary and education and training for Department of Homeland Security (DHS) leadership to promote understanding of the Muslim, Arab, Sikh and South Asian American communities and their concerns.

 

Napolitano also promised an honest and full discussion of legitimate grievances from members of these communities about DHS policies that are ineffective and have a deleterious, humiliating impact on these communities, the Sikh Coalition said.

 

Community leaders believe that fulfilling these commitments would be a step forward in establishing meaningful, open and authentic dialogue, the group said.

 

Community leaders also called for changes to DHS policies that are ineffective and discriminate based on race, ethnicity or religion.

 

These include rescinding a new Transportation Security Administration (TSA) directive targeting travellers from Pakistan and 12 other predominantly Muslim nations, plus Cuba and revising a TSA directive on religious headwear, such as turbans and headscarves.

 

The leaders also demanded limits on interrogations and searches by Customs and Border Protection agents that probe an American's faith, politics, finances or associations, as well as cell phones, laptops and electronic devices, without any evidence of wrongdoing.

 

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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