Problems with Profiling
Aviation security overreaction is counterproductive
By Tamim Saidi, Engage Minnesota
Originally published in the Saint Paul, Minn., Pioneer Press, January 6, 2010
I fully sympathize with those who are sincerely concerned about terrorist attacks. As I heard of the attempted terrorist attack on the Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, I had flashbacks of my recent flight home to the United States from Amsterdam. I could only imagine how worried and frightened our family would have been in that plane.
But as I hear the calls for profiling people like me, an American Muslim with darker skin and an unfamiliar-sounding name, to prevent terrorist attacks, a few names and faces of terrorists come to mind: Timothy McVeigh, Terry Nichols, Richard Reid, Jose Padilla, Paul Hill and Adam Gadahn.
These calls for profiling Muslims based on their names and ethnicities are as ridiculous as calls for checking IDs on all Hispanics and stopping all black motorists. If the true reason for profiling is increased security and not harassing American Muslims, racial and religious profiling is counterproductive for two reasons:
First, the law enforcement agencies need the cooperation of American Muslims to prevent attacks. Profiling causes resentment and mistrust. Second, terrorists like those above will be overlooked going through security lines.
I am sure al-Qaida would be delighted to hear that only those with darker skin and Muslim-sounding names are scrutinized and harassed so they can send other operatives who do not match those characteristics, jeopardizing my family’s security and yours.
If al-Qaida could force the United States to discriminate against its own citizens and violate all the principles that make America a great nation, it has already achieved half of its objectives.
Tamim Saidi is an American Muslim and an active member of the Muslim community in Minnesota.