On January 12, the Palestinian-owned daily Al-Quds al-Arabi carried the following lead editorial (original source in Arabic, translated into English by MidEastWire): “The treatment of Muslims in American airports”

The United States of America has adopted stricter security measures in its airports and border passageways, following the uncovering of the failed attempt to detonate a civilian plane over Detroit by a Nigerian young man who was said to have received training in an Al-Qa’idah camp in Yemen. These measures are undoubtedly a sovereign American decision but they are targeting particularly Arab and Muslim citizens, which means that the accusations of “terrorism” have now become limited to those people solely, in a clear reflection of segregation. The American administration drew up a list of terrorist states featuring fourteen countries, thirteen of which are Muslim countries and include Iran, Afghanistan, Libya, Algeria, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sudan, Syria, Pakistan, Nigeria, Somalia, Iraq and Lebanon.

As for the only non-Arab and non-Muslim country, it was Cuba. The targeting of Arabs and Muslims with thorough searches at American airports is not new. However, the tightening of these measures following the failed detonation attempt will entail further humiliation, investigations, body searches and computer and cell-phone checking, which will render trips to America an unbearable nightmare. Moreover, the fact that an Arab or Muslim citizen holds European nationality does not mean anything, and does not spare the latter from going through the same measures if coming from the states featured on the American lists, whose citizens are believed to be more prone to carry out terrorist attacks.

Therefore, Britons and French (which includes around one million names).

In this context, Libya’s current envoy to the United Nations, and former foreign minister, Mr. Abdelrahman Shalgam, was subjected to humiliating treatment at New York airport before boarding the plane, which prompted his government to protest and decide to prevent the entry of Americans into its territories. However, the apology issued by the American administration and its secretary of state for this shameful action helped contain the crisis, even if temporarily. However, the most painful example is that in which the American government sent back a French national of Algerian origins from the airport of the capital, Washington, after he was searched in a humiliating way, just because he was not white and his eyes were not blue.

The Algerian government was almost the only one to protest the American decision to subject its citizens to additional security monitoring in airports, believing it was unjustifiable discrimination… We had hoped to see all the other Arab and Islamic states on the American terrorism lists protesting in a collective way and agreeing to adopt similar measures when dealing with the American nationals who reach their airports, by lengthily interrogating them, fiercely searching them and arresting them for long hours, seeing how the Americans are also perpetrating acts of terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are in favor of the protection of innocent American citizens, but also in favor of the protection of Arab and Muslim citizens from humiliation… at the hands of American investigators who despise all that is Arab and Muslim and treat us like convicted terrorists and not like businessmen, students, diplomats or journalists.

Written by Linda Bouzembrak