Though the towers of the World Trade Center cast a shadow no more, their destruction by Muslim extremists casts an enduring shadow upon those of similar ethnicity and/or faith. To be a Muslim or Middle Easterner visiting or residing in the United States is to be automatically suspect. That is decidedly unreasonable. Hysteria and prejudice offer scant warmth against the chill of violence and extemism. The answer to intolerance is not more intolerance. Safety is compromised not enhanced by actions which marginalize or antagonize those deemed suspect. When will those in positions of authority, whether they be representatives of Congress such as Virgil Goode (R-VA) or officials in the Department of Homeland Security, recognize the error of their ways?
From the St. Petersburg Times:
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has apologized to a Muslim traveller strip-searched at the Pinellas County Jail after being detained at Tampa International Airport in April.
Federal agents said they denied Spanish citizen Safana Jawad entry to the U.S. on April 11 because she was suspected of being associated with someone they view as suspicious.
Jawad, 45, was taken to the jail, strip-searched according to protocol and held in a maximum security cell for two days. She was never told the identity of the suspicious person.
Jawad, who was born in Iraq, had flown to the United States to visit her son, H., 16, who then lived in Clearwater with her ex-husband, Ahmad Maki Kubba.
Jawad was deported to England on April 13 and has since filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security about being mistreated by customs officials as well as staff at the Pinellas County Jail.
In a letter dated Dec. 8, the Department of Homeland Security apologized only for the strip search.
“On behalf of the Department of Homeland Security, I offer you my sincere apology for having to undergo a strip search,” wrote Timothy J. Keefer, deputy officer and acting chief counsel for the department’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, which handles complaints.
On Wednesday, Homeland Security would not release the name of the suspicious person Jawad was suspected of being associated with and would not comment on whether they believe she was rightfully detained.
Attached to the letter with no explanation was a photocopy of a notice that tells Transportation Security Administration officials about Muslim head coverings and how to treat Muslim travellers respectfully when searching them. [full text]