Muslim civil rights group Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is seeking confirmation of a new policy by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) that reportedly led to a female Muslim passenger being subjected to a public full-body pat-down search.
The CIAR has subsequently asked the TSA if Islamic head scarves or hijabs will automatically trigger additional security measures for Muslim passengers.
The female Muslim passenger was taking a flight from Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) to Los Angeles International Airport on 5 January.
On being questioned, TSA staff told her a new policy had come into effect mandating that anyone wearing a head scarf must go through this type of search.
CIAR stated that the screening of Muslim passengers was an egregious form of ethnic profiling and challenged the call.
On 3 January 2010, the TSA issued a new security directive to all US and international air carriers, which became effective on 4 January 2010.
The new guidelines require passengers from 13 Muslim-majority nations to go through enhanced screening techniques in the wake of the foiled attempt by a Nigerian to blow up a US-bound aircreaft on Christmas Day last year.
The previous policy (from 2007) placed hijabs in the category of bulky clothing, which required additional screening in a private screening location.