Friday, January 07, 2011

Dumb inquiries


You may not know this if you are not Muslim or don't appear to be, but U.S. border agents are asking people who fit that description some mighty invasive questions these days. For example:

Do you prefer Fox News or Al-Jazeera?
Do you attend mosque? Why? How often? What mosque?
Are you Shi'a or Sunni?
How do you feel about the U.S. occupation in Iraq?

ACLU Blog of Rights

Some questions are even weirder:

...an agent asked him how many gods and prophets he believes in and whether he studies his religion full time.

Voice of America News.com

In many of the accounts I've read about people interrogated by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, a common reported question has been "Do you know Osama bin Laden?"

I have to ask, is anyone training the customs and military personnel who ask this stuff? There are obvious legal issues; as far as I know, even when crossing borders, citizens and legal residents still have a right to any religious or non-violent political opinions they choose.

But in addition, these queries are simply dopey. All they do is reveal that the people who ask them are grossly ignorant of the world.

The ACLU has pointed this out to the Department of Justice -- see the link above.

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