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10 Asian L.J. 215 (2003)
Flying while Brown: Federal Civil Rights Remedies to Post-9/11 Airline Racial Profiling of South Asians

handle is hein.journals/aslj10 and id is 222 raw text is: Flying While Brown: Federal Civil Rights
Remedies to Post-9/1 1 Airline Racial
Profiling of South Asians
Charu A. Chandrasekhart
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 (9/11) permanently
transformed the American civil liberties landscape. After nineteen Arab
Muslim men hijacked and crashed commercial aircraft into the World
Trade Center towers and the Pentagon, people of South Asian,' Arab, and
Middle Eastern descent have become targets of hundreds of hate crimes
and incidents of racial profiling across the country.2 Racial profilers and
perpetrators of hate crimes have particularly discriminated against South
Asians, presumably focusing on perceived racial, ethnic, and religious
similarities to the hijackers. This backlash, victimizing citizens and non-
© 2003 Asian Law Journal, Inc.
t J.D. Candidate 2004, Harvard Law School; B.A. 1998, Yale University. The author worked for
the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Relman & Associates during the summer of 2002,
where she assisted with the filing of the five airline racial profiling lawsuits discussed in this article.
The author wishes to thank Kelli Evans, Spencer Freedman, John Relman, and Reggie Shuford for their
encouragement and assistance with this Comment. This Comment won the Asian Law Journal National
Student Writing Competition.
1. South Asian is a well-established cultural and geographical term describing persons of
Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Nepali, Sri Lankan, Tibetan, Bhutanese, and Maldivian ancestry. This
article uses the term South Asians to refer to people of South Asian national or ethnic origin.
NORTHERN CALIFORNIA (Nov. 13, 2002), available at http://www.aclunc.org/911/backlash.pdf
[hereinafter ACLU, BACKLASH] (offering detailed narratives of numerous victims of post-9/l 1
violence); see also ACLU, CIVIL LIBERTIES AFTER 9/11: THE ACLU DEFENDS FREEDOM 6-9, available
at http://www.aclu.org/SafeandFree/SafeandFree.cfm?ID=10898&c=207 (last visited Mar. 5, 2003)
(describing several post-9/ll incidents of hate-motivated violence and widespread government
THE    ARAB     AMERICAN     EXPERIENCE     AFTER    SEPTEMBER     11,   at   6,    at
http://www.aaiusa.org/PDF/healing_thenation.pdf (last visited Mar, 5, 2003) (describing four incidents
of post-9/l 1 violence). The backlash persisted well over one year after the 9/11 attacks. See, e.g.,
Darryl Fears, Hate Crimes Against Arabs Surge, FBI Finds, WASH. POST, Nov. 26, 2002, at A2 (noting
that the FBI recorded 481 post-9/1 1 attacks against people of Middle Eastern descent, Muslims, and
South Asian Sikhs, representing over a 1500 percentage increase in hate crimes); Allan Turner & Dale
Lezon, Year Later, Many Muslims Still Shackled by 9/11 Stigma, HOUSTON CHRON., Sept. 8, 2002, at
A33 (citing poll data that 48 percent of Muslims felt their lives had worsened since 9/11).

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