Airline's apology sought in security search of Muslim

January 08, 2002|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

An American-Islamic civil rights organization is demanding an apology from Northwest Airlines for allegedly forcing a 17-year-old Muslim high school student to remove her head scarf at a Baltimore-Washington International Airport security checkpoint, the equivalent of a public strip search, a spokesman for the Washington-based group said.

In a letter to the Minneapolis-St.Paul-based carrier yesterday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations said the incident Dec. 18 was an example of religious harassment.

Northwest Airlines did not return calls yesterday. The council is asking the company to investigate the incident and discipline the security guard.

"For a Muslim woman to be forced to take off her headscarf in public is a violation of rights," Hodan Hassan wrote. "These women believe covering their hair in public - essential to being modest - is a mandate from God."

According to the council, the teen was en route from her home in Alexandria, Va., to visit relatives in California. She wrote to the council about the incident. Hassan said the council has received a dozen similar complaints about allegations of racial profiling during searches at airports since Sept. 11.

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