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Niqab and burka security at airports

Reader comment on item: Niqab Security Outrages at Airports

Submitted by Esther Kandel (United States), Aug 5, 2010 at 23:46

You don't see many burkas or niqabs at LAX (yet), but I happened to be standing behind a burka- clad woman a couple of years ago at LAX and saw to my astonishment that she (well I assumed it was a woman) was just waved on through security with no request for her to identify herself.

I complained immediately to the "security" people , though the burka- clad woman was gone by that point. I asked them how they could allow her to pass through like that and they assured me that "she was checked when she checked her bags in - asked to remove her veil there-dont worry". I then demanded to speak to the supervisor on duty.

I told the supervisor what happened and told him the answer I was given. I told him that it would be virtually impossible for any woman to unveil at the point of checking in at curbside or at the counter, as there is nowhere in LAX near where bags are checked in where the woman would be able to do that as she would never remove her headcovering in public. I then asked where the special rooms/cubicles were for modesty that were promised at security checks. I was not given an answer.

While I agree that men and women are equal and should be treated equally, the only way this is going to work, in my opinion, is if security people have cubicles at the ready at security checks. They then must ask religious women who cover their faces, to agree to unveil privately in front of a woman, (or else the women may refuse to do it and intimidate security workers with threats of lawsuits,a la CAIR).

This rule must be enforced at all times. It would not be limited to just Muslims of course, as they are not the only ones to wear head and face coverings. But the burka/nikab is ubiquitous and must be addressed rather than security checkers looking the other way because of intimidation or "political correctness". More people must speak up during these types of breaches of security. And if they can video it as it happens, even better. We must stop being so compliant.

Esther Kandel

Los Angeles

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