Since Sept. 11, Sikhs have been subjected to ethnic and religious profiling at the airport that the community has struggled for years to combat. Those with dark skin, or people who wear turbans have been pulled aside for extra pat downs and discriminatory questioning while trying to get through airport security. Community reports show that at some airports, a full 100 percent of Sikh travelers must go through secondary screening before they make it to their gate. Through it all, the federal government has insisted that it doesn’t engage in profiling. Now, advocates are turning to technology to help people report the profiling they experience at airports.
Today, the Sikh Coalition unveiled a mobile app called “FlyRights” to help Sikh travelers and others who are subjected to profiling at the airport to report their concerns straight to the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration.
“The TSA asserts it doesn’t profile,” the Sikh Coalition’s Director of Programs Amardeep Singh said in a statement. “This application will allow us to better assess whether that’s true. All travelers now have an easy way of speaking to their government on the issue of airport profiling.”
The Sikh Coalition says that part of the impetus for the app was the perplexingly few incidents officially reported to the government, given the community’s actual experiences. During the first half of 2011, DHS’s Office of Civil Rights received only 11 official complaints of improper TSA screenings, which the group says doesn’t comport with reality.
“Up until now, victims of racial profiling at our nation’s airports had no easy way to call attention to this unfortunate trend,” Rep. Judy Chu said in a statement. “The Sikh Coalition’s new app changes that. Travelers now have the power to fight racial profiling right at their fingertips.”
The app, out today, is available for both Android and iPhone users.