Paris: Non-Muslims Get Special Terrorism Screening—by Muslims

A couple of days ago I was flying back to the U.S. from a (probably once in a lifetime) trip to France. My ticket was stamped SSS which is not, as I’d have expected, Super Secret Squirrel, but Securite Special something or other.  My long-vanished French doesn’t allow me to decipher the original French leading to the acronym.

This meant a talk with a jolly, happy-sounding security guy who you’d think was just an airport flunky until you actually saw his badge which was discreet and out of the way.  He reminded me of the scene in Heinlein’s The Puppet Masters when the main character is given a security once-over without noticing: he joked about speaking French, said my accent didn’t sound Portuguese (true. The mid-range hearing loss and years of English-speaking come in), and asked about places in Portugal without seeming to.

So far so good, and I was mildly impressed.  I’ve long maintained that what we actually need is this sort of understated, low-grade examination of travelers.

I’ll gloss over the fact that as we went through the metal detector, we were pulled out for what seemed to be an unrelated random search – my husband and I and half a dozen assorted people – creating a clusterflop of insanity and displaced bags that were actually unattended for several minutes.  That is not relevant.

It is relevant, though, that I thought I was done with the enhanced part of security, though the gentleman from security said I might be required to turn on my computer going through the line.  Fine.

But then, after the metal detector and all, I was pulled into another line, which was apparently the "real and for truth" enhanced security examination.

This is when I realized I had fallen into a bad science fiction story of an alternate reality where Islam was attacked by everyone else, by acts of terrorism involving airplanes, and was doing its best to defend itself.

The line was long and seemed predominantly people over 60, though the Swedish-looking lady ahead of me might have been my age or thereabouts.  And the Buddhist monk in full regalia standing between us was probably in his thirties.  Also, he was rather obviously of Asian extraction.

And the line moved incredibly slowly, mostly because the people running the enhanced security spoke broken, accented French, seemed to have no clue what they were actually doing, and also seemed to be marking time more than anything else.

They were also all obviously, clearly, of Middle Eastern origin. The name tags confirmed Muslim names, but the accents and look had already announced it.

Note that going through security with us were several Middle Eastern families, with women attired in everything from chador to full burka.  There were also young men clutching Middle Eastern passports.