My Scarf Is a Security Risk


It’s true; when we flew to England this time I learned that my scarf is a security risk, though I’ll admit I don’t understand how this could be so. The only danger I can imagine would be if someone used it to strangle people.

Still, mass strangling as a terrorist tactic? I don’t think so. And given my clumsiness, I’m more likely to be the stranglee than the strangler. (That’s why I’m always extra careful on the airport’s moving walkways.)

I’m not trying to be snarky, but I don’t understand how this scarf could be dangerous.

I guess my imagination doesn’t stretch far enough.

So, I asked the officer. “Please don’t think I’m being rude or anything,” I said, “but can you tell me how this could be a security risk?”

She hemmed and hawed a bit, then finally glared at me and said something about having to check all scarves and please put it in the bowl.

I put it in the bowl.

Then, when we got to England, I did an Internet search on scarves as a security risk but found nothing relevant.

The only thing I can think of was maybe the TSA is making Muslim women take off their head scarves and, in some effort to stave off accusations of racism, decided to apply the decision to every scarf they see.

Or maybe someone has found a way to infuse cloth with explosives?

I found the whole inident to be rather comical. I mean, I’ve had my purse and luggage searched in front of me and while in transit, been scanned, and patted down more times than I can count. I’m used to taking off my shoes, my jacket, and my belt, emptying my pockets, even removing jewelry on occasion, but this was completely new.

Do you any ideas about why removing my scarf was necessary? If so, please leave a comment because I’m mystified.


About kymlucas

"Taking care not to take love too seriously." Writer of smart, fresh, contemporary romance and women's fiction. Blogging about writing, reading, and more recently, dealing with the ins and outs of breast cancer.
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8 Responses to My Scarf Is a Security Risk

  1. dropjohn says:

    They’ve been doing this for a while now – all recent times I’ve been through security I’ve been required to remove my jacket and sweater and scarf and hat (along with shoes and belt). I’m guessing the “reasoning” is that you could hide something under or within the layers (a garrote? waterproof fuse?). Jewelry made from ammo brass they won’t even let through, even though it’s patently unable to be used as any sort of weapon.

    Basically, it’s all bread and circuses, IMHO – it’s about making people feel secure, rather than actual security measures.


    • kymlucas says:

      I’m not sure there’s any way to really be secure. As soon as we figure out the newest from terrorists, they think of something else. And I didn’t really mind removing the scarf. I just didn’t understand why. It seemed so ridiculous.


  2. Comrade says:

    The TSA upsets me on a number of levels. They’d be a whole lot more tolerable if their security policies and hiring practices were more thoughtful. Anywho, I looked this up online and, curiously enough on the Susan G. Komen’s site, I found this tidbit:

    “If you wear a scarf or other head covering, you do not have to remove the covering to pass through the security checkpoint. However, you may have to undergo a pat-down search of your head. In some cases, the TSA agent may then ask you to remove the scarf or head covering, but you may request a private screening away from public areas.”


    • kymlucas says:

      That’s kind of what I found too, but no mention of just a regular neck scarf.And there was no offer of a pat down search. I did go through one of those scanning machines though, just like everyone else on our flight.


  3. Susan says:

    It is required to bring a scarf to Bangladesh, Morocco and Iran so why not England? They are a melting pot right now and certainly there are people there wearing scarves. Sometimes I just do not understand the mentality of what is and is not a risk. When I went back to see my family a few years back I wore a long black scarf and was not required to remove it although my shoes were removed whilst going through security.


  4. marylou anderson says:

    I am familiar with the ridiculousness at the TSA CHECK IN: I’ve had my share of problems with them
    So I looked up under TSA:– search: Religious and cultural:
    According to this part of TSA rules there is/was NO reason for the TSA agent/employee to have taken your scarf.
    Even if the employee considered it a religious clothing article there is NO restriction for you carrying it on or wearing it.
    I would not have been so nice.
    I would have asked her to explain to me her reasoning; then if I was not satisfied with her answer I would have asked for a supervisor to join our party.
    You don’t say or maybe I missed it–what airport this was–perhaps this is an issue that the TSA needs to address at that airport..
    You ought to write a letter to the TSA using one of the addresses for complaints on their website but make darn sure you send hard copy as well. e-mail is conveniently lost when the subject is about THEIR ERROR.(H mph! been there)


    • kymlucas says:

      Mary Lou, at the time I just didn’t want to waste our time by asking for a supervisor. I just mainly thought it was weird. And it was Cleveland Airport. Thanks for the suggestion to write them. I’ve filled out a form and emailed them just to ask for the reason. I don’t really mind taking the scarf off — I just wanted to know why because it seemed a little excessive.


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