Airport tells faithful to take off turbans, veils

Security at Brisbane Airport has gone into a spin after an unprecedented crackdown on turbans and other culturally-sensitive headgear worn by passengers. A federal investigation has been launched into an edict by the company in charge of the airport’s security to demand passengers remove for security checks religious headwear, including turbans, veils and Jewish skull caps.

At least one international flight was delayed at the weekend when staff from the company, ISS Security, demanded 13 people of the Sikh religion remove their turbans and a Muslim woman to take off her face veil. The Department of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development is investigating whether the clampdown by ISS breached federal airport policy.

It is standard airport practice around the world that religious headwear is only removed after conventional screening methods raise an alarm. But ISS employees yesterday said a directive was issued on Saturday demanding all passengers remove their religious headwear for security checks, regardless of whether there was any cause for suspicion. “We were told you have to take them off, or you’ll be stood down,” one worker said., 26 February 2008