France: Baggage handlers barred from airport

Apparently the only crime of these baggage handlers, who just happen to be Muslims, is that they have gone to learn in Islamic schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. There is no reason why this should be a security risk. After all, we all know that there are no terrorist training camps in those two countries and that all madras there teach to love humandkind.

Several Muslim workers have been barred from working at the Charles de Gaulle airport outside Paris after police withdrew their access badges for security reasons, with suspended employees complaining that they were suspended because they were practicing Muslims.

The staff lost their security clearances -- which allowed them to work in sensitive airport customs zones -- because France's Anti-terrorist Coordination Unit (UCLAT) said they posed "a risk to the airport's security" or were simply deemed "dangerous," Jacques Lebrot, the airport's deputy chief of police, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) Friday, October 20.

The decision came from the Seine-Saint-Denis police district where the airport is located.

Lebrot said religion was not a criterion and their suspension had everything to do with security.

"When UCLAT concludes that a person presents a risk to the airport's security, I have no reason not to remove his authorization to work in a reserved zone," Lebrot said.

During the inquiry before a suspension, a worker may be asked about his behavior and religious practices, the official said.

He gave the example of airport workers who lost their badges because they had attended Islamic schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.


The public prosecutors' office of nearby Bobigny has launched a preliminary inquiry into the matter, following a complaint of discrimination filed by the CFDT union on behalf of Muslim baggage handlers at the airport.

The suspended workers, whose number has not been stated, claim they lost their permit to work there because of their Islamic faith.

Four luggage handlers have separately filed charges at an administrative tribunal in the Paris suburb of Cergy against the decision to suspend their work badges, which gives airport personnel access to customs zones sensitive areas near runways.

Security fears involving workers at the Charles de Gaulle airport have been raised before, and a book claiming the airport was infiltrated by "Islamic militants" stirred a furor when it was published in April.

Anti-terrorist officials cast doubts on claims made in "The Mosques of Roissy," by right-wing French politician Philippe de Villiers.

And an airport union, Sud Aerien, accused Villiers -- a presidential hopeful in next year's elections -- of playing on public fears of Islamic radicals to win votes.

In 2002, a French-Algerian airport baggage handler was arrested when weapons and explosives were found in his car. Police later said he had been the victim of a set up.

France has a sizable Muslim minority of six million people, the largest Muslim minority in Europe.

Source: Islam Online (English)

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