Muslims confront government over travel woes

May 3, 2011

PARMA, Ohio (RNS) Government officials told Arab-Americans and Muslims
that some post-9/11 security measures are easing, and acknowledged that
Muslims are often subject to a higher degree of discrimination in
travel.

The two groups met Saturday (April 30) following conversations
between Steven Dettelbach, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District
of Ohio, and local Muslims and Arab-Americans.

Dettelbach said the idea was to air concerns. He acknowledged at the
start that "there is a headwind of intolerance that is in the face of
this community."

Some of the 100 attendees expressed skepticism about the
government's sensitivity to their concerns. One man, who said he was of
Syrian origin, said he does not look like an Arab and is frequently
waved through security but companions who appear to be Arab are pulled
aside.

Razan Reed, a Canadian U.S. citizen of Lebanese birth, complained at
length that she and her family have been harassed while entering the
U.S. because of her husband's Islamic faith.

George Selim, a policy adviser with the Department of Homeland
Security's Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, said the
department has strict policies against racial profiling. He said the
agency is sensitive to the rights of citizens and has taken great
strides to streamline security procedures.

Selim and Dettelbach both noted that Homeland Security modified the
cumbersome National Security Entry/Exit Registration System so that
foreign nationals no longer have to register and be subjected to
interviews every time they enter the United States.