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TSA changes new screening policy

Oct. 17, 2007 at 5:35 PM

NEW YORK, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- The New York-based Sikh Coalition is praising the U.S. Transportation Security Administration's shift in religious headwear screening policy.

The TSA announced a new policy for security screenings of religious head coverings in airports. Officials say the coverings will only be patted down if traveler permits it. Instead the person can opt to pat down their own head covering, and then have their hands swabbed with a cotton cloth to check for chemical residue.

The Sikh Coalition welcomes the policy change because it respects religious pluralism and protects national security.

"We are encouraged that the TSA has found a solution that does not single out turbans for additional screening," said Amardeep Singh, executive director of the Sikh Coalition, in a statement. "Indeed, it is possible to secure America's safety and be true to the principles of religious freedom. Still, we call on the TSA to implement safeguards that make good on its 'no profiling' pledge."

The TSA implemented a policy on Aug. 4, 2007, that listed turbans as headwear that should be patted down. After concerns were raised the TSA has now removed turbans from its screener guidance, and TSA officials say mandatory cultural awareness training about Sikh practices will be provided to all its field employees.

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