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TSA Tells Flyers: Muslims May Be Flying During Ramadan

The TSA would like to give the public a heads-up that “persons of the Muslim faith” may be traveling during Ramadan this year, so the TSA issued a “Traveler Information” statement, titled “Traveling During Ramadan.”

The statement outlines behaviors that Muslims may engage in while traveling. It says,

“Ramadan, a holy month for persons of the Muslim faith, begins this year approximately on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 and ends on Thursday, August 8, 2013.  TSA understands that this is a significant religious event for the Muslim community. TSA has reminded its security workforce that traveling passengers may be observed at various areas in the airport—including security checkpoints or on aircraft—engaged in religious practices and meditations during Ramadan. TSA would also like to inform the traveling public that they may notice passengers who are observing Ramadan engaging in the following activities at the airports:

  1. Passengers observing Ramadan will abstain from any food, water, smoking or vices of any kind.
  2. Passengers observing Ramadan may be more likely to engage in prayer at airports or on airplanes while traveling than at other times during the year.
  3. Before prayer, Muslims go through ablution, i.e., a cleansing or washing of certain areas of the body that is usually done in private if possible, but may be observed in airport restrooms.
  4. Passengers observing Ramadan may be seen reading, listening to or orally reciting the Holy Qur’an at airports and on airplanes.
  5. Passengers observing Ramadan may carry prayer beads and ‘whisper’ prayers constantly.”

Many people had mixed reactions to the release of the advisory. Haris Tarin, director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Washington office, told CNN, “Whenever the TSA is trying to create an environment of understanding, we welcome that. At the same time, it highlights certain actions that can make the American Muslim population seem almost alien.”

Do you think that this statement was necessary for the TSA to release? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

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