Dear airport security, No Really, my headscarf is not a threat

A number of factors come into play when choosing the perfect air travel outfit. The weather of your destination, what will keep you comfortable on the plane and a touch of style (Don’t throw fashion if that’s your thing totally out of the window because you are jet-setting). What doesn’t come into consideration however, is how much of a security threat your outfit is going to be. Because, is that even a thing?!

Well, until you are selected for extra screening at the airport then it becomes a thing. “Ambia madam, ashuke aende walk-in security checkpoint for frisking.” Just me? I couldn’t help but chuckle. I don’t see no one else being asked to get out of their vehicle for frisking. While I didn’t have much time to mull over why I had made the perfect candidate for an extra pat-down at the screening yard, I suddenly became all too aware of the meaningless piece of fabric on my head that I often forget is there. Just like that, thanks to my brightly cloured, floral pashmina, I got suspicion. All of a sudden, I was a security threat.


In the wake of another terror attack, I don’t pretend to not understand why security should be tougher now. As matter of fact, when passing through airport security all passengers should do what it takes to ensure they arrive safely at their destinations. Key word, “All” passengers. Pardon me then when I don’t seem to comprehend why someone should be singled out as “most threatening passenger” by virtue of what religiously affiliated attire they may or may not be wearing. Shouldn’t everyone be subjected to the same kind of security screening? This check, if you ask me, is so devoid of logic. To assume that only Arab-appearing, Semitic looking or hijab wearing individuals are a threat is dangerously naïve.

Focusing more on a profile only increases the risk of missing out on those who don’t match it. How does that make us any safer? What it potentially does, is it opens the door for terrorist groups to probe any profiling system and figure out how to beat the profile. It is seems that our security apparatus underestimates the ability of the perpetrators to recruit people who do not fit the “terrorist” profile. Don’t you think therefore that it is prudent for everyone to undergo the same scrutiny when it comes to safety measures? Haven’t we seen cases of explosives placed in the baggage of non-suspecting civilians? How many times have we thought that the perpetrators came from an obvious ethnicity, only to be surprised later when identities are revealed?

Photo credit: teachandlearn

Singling me out on the basis of my flimsy “radioactive” floral headscarf doesn’t make anyone else safer. Terrorism is a risk we are all exposed to; veiled, or not. And as such, everyone should be held accountable. Security scrutiny should apply to all regardless of race, ethnicity, religious affiliation or even your style of dressing for that matter. Nevertheless, living in such a volatile time, one cannot control how people react or interact with you based on your pashmina or headscarf. What to do? Perhaps don’t wear anything that could possibly suggest that you are a mass murderer, like a scarf on your head for instance or better yet next time try to look as harmless as possible, which then again with my hulking 5’4” frame, and chubby cheeks, can be a very daunting task.

Never had I encountered veiled prejudice before nor have I ever felt the discomfort that comes with the simple choice of a pashmina over your hair in an airport. Boy, did I really feel it this time! As if air travel wasn’t such a drag already.

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