Par readers le 11 février 2010

Profiling yes, but do it right

I actually do see the point of profiling. Although I was born in one of these countries listed for airport scrutiny and I might be profiled myself for having my place of birth flashing on my Canadian passport, I'd rather my fellow countrymen of origin to be profiled than being blown up by them in thin air.
My argument though since more than 80% of these incidents are carried out by 'Muslim' 'men' between '15-40 of age', I'd suggest to save us all some time at the airport and focus on or "profile" for these target groups. Seriously lets not pretend any longer that we will check all passengers from these countries (e.g. Christian Sudanese women!), when in fact we are not after a certain race here but after a certain behavior specific so far to Muslim young men.
I'd also add Morocco and Pakistan to the list of countries proposed bringing it to 16, as most of the terrorists convicted in Madrid and London attacks come from there and Al-Qaeda has a strong base in these countries. The reason they were not added is of course a political one. Neither the US wants to aggravate Pakistan at this point nor the EU will follow suite and single out their most feared Moroccan citizens.
The risk that I fear in focusing on certain target groups is that security officers might end up neglecting the other groups, leaving wide-open the space for recruiting them and surprising us all. The young Muslim black males of America, for instance, could be the new face of terrorism, among others of course.
But we can learn from the Israelis, this is what they do at their airports as I witnessed first-hand. They profile for citizens of origins with declared animosity towards the state of Israel. The first question they asked me when I arrived at the border check point and they saw my flashy 'born in Damascus' on my Canadian passport was: what is your religion? Because they know statistically Christian young females tend not to blow themselves up. This is of course dangerous since most passports don't include religion, a passenger might lie and pretend to be Buddhist just to avoid the long hours of questioning. So, the slippery slope here is to start demanding having not only the place of birth indicated on your passport but also your ancestors religious affiliations, as one might be born to a Jewish family but could be an atheist by the time he has a passport and then (s)he will be unnecessarily profiled. Or what do we do with the Syrian government which follows a secular tradition by not indicating a person's religious affiliation anywhere except the birth certificate? Does a passenger from now on needs to carry not only his numeric passport but also his birth certificate?
One thing is for sure, long gone are the days when we could say have a 'happy and 'safe' flight, as the two are becoming oxymoron!

Rouba al-Fattal, Paris

Thanks for your courage

Thanks for your recent issue on Copenhagen in which you courageously give another side of the argument for global climate change. I say "courageously" because such dissenting views are either scoffed at or ignored. The Metropolitain, the National Post and the Sun newspapers seem to be few media outlets which provide thoughtful views on this subject. I could never understand why Canada had signed on to Kyoto when there was no plan of action or cost estimates. What were they signing up to?

Bob Fowler, Ottawa

Keep the articles coming

Your article “Of scans, profiles and freedoms”  is very diplomatically worded, but it spells out the problem. Keep these articles coming, as Canadians have to be informed of what we are facing from threats emanating from Islamist extremists, both inside and outside our country. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out who perpetrated most of the terrorist acts worldwide since 9/11.
We in  the west have to understand that we are under attack, and are at war with an implacable enemy.  Call it what you want, but we do have to park political correctness at the curb, if we are to have any success with airline security. There have been various articles about Israeli security procedures,  that have been successful since the aborted attempt in 1968. That's a record of over 42 years. They use hands on observation and psychological standards to protect the public. 
We should be demanding our government  learn from other countries with successful security programs, and implementing those programs here, without delay.  I am sure that you have seen some of the reports concerning what the Israeli's do to protect their flying citizens. 

Gerald Kreaden, Montreal


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