Racial profiling is common practice at airports and is often used against Arabs traveling to and from Palestine and Israel. Now an Israeli airline is even refusing to carry the corpse of a Muslim woman back to her homeland.Palestinian media sources reported on Thursday that Israeli El- Al airlines have refused to carry the body of Lamis Jarrar from the USA to her homeland.

Jarrar, a lecturer at the Howard University in Washington, died last Friday. Her relatives wanted her body to be transported to Israel so that she could be buried in her hometown of Akka. However, El Al officials told the relatives they ‘don’t carry the body of a Muslim’ and that they would not allow the body to be transferred aboard their one of their planes.

According to the Palestinian media source, Arab member of the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) Dr. Azmi Bishara expressed his opposition to these outrageously racist policies in a message to the Israeli transport minister Shaul Mofaz and the El Al chief executive officer Haim Romano. He condemned the company’s refusal to carry the body of Lamis Jarrar, describing the company’s behaviour as ‘racist’ and ‘unethical’, and asked whether this was the kind of policy they intended to practice.

A report published by the Arab Association for Human Rights and The Center Against Racism in December 2006 exposed forms of racial profiling implemented at airports. The report states that ‘Arab citizens are subject to a distinctive and discriminatory approach on the basis of their national origin. They are collectively, and almost automatically, subject to a security inspection that is not imposed on Jewish passengers, and is based on a security perception that persistently views them as a threat.’

Living Arab passengers are usually subjected to this discrimination in the name of ‘security’ (a word that often crops up in the Israeli authorities’ rhetoric aiming to legitimize abuses of basic human rights). However, the threat that a corpse poses to ‘security’ is not entirely clear.

To read the full report ‘Suspected Citizens: Racial Profiling against Arab Passengers by Israeli Airports and Airlines’ and other publications by the Arab Association For Human Rights and the Center Against Racism, please follow the link below.