Enhanced screening procedures for U.S.-bound air passengers traveling through "state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest" such as Pakistan, Yemen and Nigeria amount to religious profiling of Muslims, the Council on American-Islamic Relations said Monday.
The Transportation Security Administration announced the strengthened security steps Sunday, saying that "effective aviation security must begin beyond our borders."
A senior government official, not authorized to speak on the record, provided CNN with the list of 14 countries subject to the enhanced screening for travelers heading to the United States: Cuba, Sudan, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen.
The new guidelines target 13 Muslim-majority nations and will "disproportionately target American Muslims who have family or spiritual ties to the Islamic world," the Council on American-Islamic Relations said, adding that the tougher measures "amount to religious and ethnic profiling."
"Under these new guidelines, almost every American Muslim who travels to see family or friends or goes on pilgrimage to Mecca will automatically be singled out for special security checks -- that's profiling," said Nihad Awad, the council's national executive director. "While singling out travelers based on religion and national origin may make some people feel safer, it only serves to alienate and stigmatize Muslims and does nothing to improve airline security."
It is not everyone elses fault that the mass majority of terrorist activities are happening because of a segment that follows Islam and in Muslim majority countries. Until that radically changes this is going to be the new norm.