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70% of Tory members back ethnic screening of air travellers

Today's Guardian reports that "the government could allow hi-tech security searches at British airports that focus on people who fit a particular profile".  This, the newspaper continues, will prompt "fears that particular racial and religious groups will face increased scrutiny."

In the end-year ConservativeHome survey (answered by 1,994 members), 70% agreed that "Airport security staff should screen passengers so that, for example, elderly ladies are not treated the same as young Asian men". Just 22% disagreed.

According to last Monday's Daily Express, Professor Anthony Glees, the Director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at Buckingham University, said that extra questions at airports and even body searches for passengers deemed as risky could prevent potential terror plots. He continued:

“Profiling passengers is the rational solution at this time until MI5 and the police get to the bottom of this attack. Muslim passengers should be prepared to give security at airports more detailed explanations of why and where they are flying.”

In The Guardian, Ed Husain makes the case against profiling:

"In both Britain and America demands for profiling all Muslims at airports are increasing in volume. This mindset not only fails to understand that most Muslims around the world detest al-Qaeda, but this outlook also cannot comprehend how terrorists are always one step ahead of the game. If it is Muslim-sounding names that are to be stopped, would a name like Richard Reid – the infamous shoe bomber – have been detected? If it is Asian men that are to be stopped, then we will see an increase in white men recruited for terror?

After all, al-Qaeda's English spokesperson is Adam Gadahn, a white American. If it is men who are stopped, we will see women terrorists emerge. Let us not forget Palestinian groups' repeated use of single women as suicide bombers. Do not underestimate the power of terrorists to recruit serving airline pilots and other aviation personnel. Where there is a will, there will always be a way.

The profiling of ordinary Muslims not only opens other avenues for al-Qaeda, but results in the harassment and potential loss of support from the very people we need on our side to contain al-Qaeda: ordinary Muslims. Without mainstream Muslims on side, western powers cannot deal al-Qaeda and its associates the blow that it deserves. After all, it was the Muslim father of the Nigerian would-be plane bomber who alerted the US embassy in Lagos six weeks before last week's attempted attack. Muslim families are our first line of defence against terrorism. Can we afford to lose that unseen, unappreciated buffer against extremists?"

Tim Montgomerie


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