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The Return of SSSS

11 20 14



By Naeem Baig
Strong. Smart. Sharp. Savvy. If only that ‘s what it stood for.
A quadruple S on a flight boarding pass means something far less positive. It means travel harassment on a regular basis. It means feeling unwelcome. It means being someone whom the system considers suspect and untrustworthy. The SSSS is an acronym for Secondary Screening Security Selection.

After years of having the dreaded 4S on my boarding cards, I was finally able to travel without them in the past few years. My travel became far less hectic and stressful, and almost worry free. Imagine my surprise when on my last domestic flight, I glanced down at my boarding pass to discover the return of the familiar “SSSS.” My status as an ordinary Muslim traveller was gone. I no longer had to endure just the invasive pat down. Instead I was pulled aside for additional questions and screening.

Why did my status change? Is my name back on one of the infamous government lists, with hundreds and thousands of Muslim and Arab names on it? Is it because I spoke in New York at an Interfaith Program on Climate Change? Is it because I attended a religious leaders breakfast with former Vice President Al Gore? There are an uncountable number of Muslims who continuously experience similar profiling.

Recently, I talked to a respected Canadian Muslim scholar who, without fail, is pulled aside for a secondary screening every time he enters the U.S. He was disturbed by the Immigration and Custom officers’ lack of basic information and training concerning Islam and Muslims.

Last month at a meeting of the National Muslim Christian Initiative, a faith leader shared how she occasionally wears hijab when traveling. She has experienced a stark difference in the behavior of TSA agents when she is in hijab as compared to when she is not. Now, when pulled aside for a second screening, she gives the agents a sermon on equality and against discrimination.

American Muslim communities throughout the country – from rainy Seattle to sunny Florida, from Los Angeles to Boston – are busy in their lives and struggling to raise families, as are all Americans. They contribute to the country with their talent and knowledge. Among them are those who have built some of the tallest American buildings, who teach America’s future generations, who run the best educational websites, and who help pick comfortable shoes for a Supreme Court Justice.

And all of them would like to see an America where, “People are not judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”


  • Zak G

    Question is how do I get myself off the no fly list

  • jacob

    the problem is that muslims have silently accepted the blame for the terrorist activities conducted by Israelis , hindus and others disguised as muslims. muslim leaders and Imams,condemned rightfully but without verifying whether muslims where behind those or not. and despite knowing the facts they failed to speak up against the perpetrators. in fear of losing their public profile and relations and being sidelined,they condemned the attackers as muslims well in fact they had no connection in remotest with islam or eeman. despite knowing the fact that large part of American economy ruuns on money from gulf countries their investments. they also failed to attack the paradox of the non muslim ideology,and instead became apologetic .for what god knows.?? those who would speak up is considered a terroririst like mr awalaki and dr. Siddiqi and others. while other rabbis and bjp rss, would get away with false flag operations like the Mumbai attacks and the 911.if they had gotten together and loudly voiced their opinion and not allowed unjustified attacks on Afghanistan , Iraq, the present day situation and the worst to come would not have arised. it is the fault of the muslims leadership in western couuntries. clearly first and then the imams and the gulf country and Pakistani leadership. shame on them. those who don’t speak uup against an oppressor have no hope. and islam teaches to speak the truth and nothing bu the truth and to stand up for each other when we are unjustly wronged. unfortunately they have to pay the price unless a big force changes things. but muslims will have to go through a lot. of harassment everywhere. no one is going to pay attention to sermons anymore. the way isllam has been demonized. and now with ISIS started by Israelis . clearly no one has the guts to show the world the leader of the ISIS is none but jew named Elliot shimon, and his name itself contradicts with names that muslims keep 4 last names in one name. makes no sense. and the organized videos none owns them but Israelis. and their suuporters. in western countries. my advice to muslims don’t care about your PR for the moment. speak. up. together. and broadcast yourself.