It is repeatedly happening, and it is humiliating, very humiliating. Crossing the US border is becoming a harrowing experience for many immigrants and non-White communities visiting or residing in the US. Every few days we come across disturbing cases of Muslims, Indians, Turban-wearing Sikhs, and people of other ethnicities being singled out on airports for humiliating security checks – for no reason other than belonging to a particular religion or country. It happened a few months ago when Navdeep Bain, a Canadian cabinet minister, was asked to remove his turban at a Detroit airport, and now it has happened with a 27-year-old Muslim woman in the US, who was forced to partially undress and show her bloodied menstrual pad during airport screening.
It is not the first time that Zainab Merchant, who is a Harvard University graduate and founder of current affairs website Zrights Studios, has been forced to undergo what she calls, “intrusive searches, questioning, and detention”. In 2017, Zainab’s bags and its contents, including undergarments, had been opened in public, while the security officials asked her outrageous questions including, whether she was a Shia or Sunni, whether she supported ISIS, and why she criticized the policies of the US government.
Zainab, a mother of three children, has filed a complaint against the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) through the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) demanding an explanation over why she is repeatedly the subject of lengthy and demeaning searches.
However, the matter would not end even if the officials apologized because there have been many an apology in the past with no noticeable change in the conduct of the authorities. The issue is much bigger. The real issue is that of the growing racial bias and discrimination and blatant violation of human rights and freedom.
It is the duty of the state to ensure the dignity and self-respect of every individual. To single out people because of their religious beliefs or political views is undemocratic, to say the least, and unbecoming of a nation that has been built by the collective labor of so many different people of different races, communities, and beliefs.