Dublin Airport security’s step in wrong direction
2019-07-01 16:07:58 -

By Mohammed Samaan


Like many other people who go away on a holiday during the summer season, I was excited about having gone through security in Dublin Airport and being in the duty-free area awaiting the plane I was taking to meet friends in Belgium. But this was spoiled when I noticed an official was staring at me. I ignored him and kept walking but on my way back he was still there, watching me, this time with a woman counterpart. They stopped me and introduced themselves as airport security.


They asked me to show my documents, and told me that it is a routine thing to ask someone in the airport. I replied: “And this person is usually a Muslim.” They said no, and how would they know that I was a Muslim? I told them, swarthy skin with Middle Eastern looks are very obvious. They went on to ask me to open my bag in order to search it, and to get everything out of my pockets. They also asked me where I was going and who I was going to meet.


I responded that what they were doing was racial profiling. They insisted that it was all a coincidence and they did not have a clue that I was a Muslim, and I was over-reacting to the whole thing. But it is no over-reaction when you are always at the receiving end, as I had been treated like that several times at various UK airports. This treatment came as a shock for me as I always thought that, unlike in UK airports, Dublin Airport was my comfort zone.


The problem I had with their questions is that they were not about whether I had something illegal. I make particular reference to my statement that I was going to Brussels to attend a meeting for Palestinians in Europe, and they responded by asking me how often I go to such meetings, when was the last time I went, and what do we talk about. I responded by asking them how meeting people miles away in Belgium might affect the security of Dublin Airport.


It is the intrusive nature of this interrogation that brings into question the training provided to the airport’s security staff, as it seemed more like intelligence gathering than anything else.


It should also go without saying how humiliating it is to be singled out in front of other passengers and searched and questioned in the duty-free area.


While I faced this problem several times in the past in the UK airports, the difference is that at UK airports and sea ports, they always quoted the legislation that gave them the power to stop and search the victims of these discriminatory policies, while there was no mention of any such legislation in Dublin.


For the Irish Government itself, considering the sharp rise in homelessness in the city, I’m not sure if they’ve got their priorities right. They could be using their resources to help those who do not have a roof above their heads, instead of allocating a budget and staff to single out ordinary people who are just trying to get on with their lives. It is a step in the wrong direction to start behaving in this manner when Ireland has never been the target of terror from ethnic minorities, and relations with minority communities has been outstanding when compared with other European countries.


Mohammed Samaana is a freelance writer based in Belfast.

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