Muslim Pilgrimage Spurs Screeners' Training

December 29, 2006


Source: Newsday,0,7228608.story?coll=ny-leadnationalnews-headlines

WASHINGTON - A month after the removal of six imams from a U.S. Airways flight spurred accusations of harassment, the federal government has given airport security trainers cultural awareness training about the Islamic pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.

This year, an estimated 16,000 American Muslims are making the annual pilgrimage, called the hajj - including several hundred from Long Island. The grueling, five-day ritual, which began yesterday, is a religious duty for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it.

"The cultural awareness training involved reminders about how to screen people with head coverings, policies regarding transport of holy water and the proper respect to show when handling a Quran," said Amy Kudwa, a Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman.

Muslim leaders lauded the training of the nation's 45,000 screeners as a positive first step, but said that much more was needed to protect American Muslim travelers from profiling and what they called inappropriate interrogations.