Feminist Muslim reform activist argues for racial profiling

Shots of four sets of eyes from different ethnic backgrounds, stacked one atop the other.

Is racial profiling bigotry by definition, or is it a pragmatic response to terrorism? (Photo Credit: CC BY/publik 15/Flickr)

Georgetown University journalism professor and feminist Muslim reform activist Asra Q. Nomani believes that it’s time for the United States to be pragmatic when it comes to homeland security, rather than being politically correct. In a recent op-ed piece in The Daily Beast, Nomani argues that racial profiling and religious profiling are the most practical way to handle the increasing number of Muslim terrorist threats. She believes that the route the Transportation Security Administration has taken to maintain homeland security is inefficient.

Racial profiling as a response to religious ideology

According to Nomani, the U.S. must open a dialogue regarding the use of racial profiling in order to address what terrorism experts classify as an explosion of religious ideology that drives terrorist organizations and individuals to heinous acts. Beginning with 9/11 and moving forward with numerous smaller incidents in the U.S. including the recent potential car bomb threat in Portland, Ore., Asra Nomani asserts that terrorism has been perpetrated in large part by Muslims. In Nomani’s estimation, the proper response by airport security – while difficult – would be racial and religious profiling. But there would be a twist, according to Nomani – it would be rational profiling.

“Profiling doesn’t have to be about discrimination, persecution or harassment. We are not arguing that the TSA should send anyone named Mohammad to be waterboarded somewhere between the first-class lounge and the Pizza Hut,” writes Nomani.

Racial profiling is about threat assessment, argues Nomani

Those with nothing to hide at the airport should have no reason for concern, Nomani states. In a recent debate over the issue of racial profiling, she said: “Profile me. Profile my family.” She said she is willing to be subjected to profiling because “we in the Muslim community have failed to police ourselves.” Following recognizable “trouble signs” for terrorism via profiling would solve the problem, Nomani argues.

At the beginning of the debate, 37 percent of the audience supported religious and racial profiling, with 33 percent against and 30 percent undecided. After the debate, 49 percent voiced their support for racial profiling, while 40 percent were against it and the remainder were undecided. It was an academic debate, however. Whether racial profiling and religious profiling could gain popular traction remains to be seen.


BYU Journal of Public Law paper on rational profiling

The Daily Beast

Do the benefits outweigh the costs?

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