Photo Illustration by Erin O’Flynn/The Daily Beast/Getty Images and Public Domain
Few travelers would likely be familiar with the meaning of “SSSS” if it was stamped on their boarding passes at the airport. If you’re Muslim, however, this has probably happened to you or someone you know in the last two decades because of the terrorist watchlist that was implemented post-9/11.
While the watchlist reportedly has over 1.6 million names on it, it has continued to insidiously operate in the background of most people’s travel experiences in and through the U.S.
The watchlist made news last month because of a lawsuit brought by Farid Sulayma, an American and Muslim leader living in Seattle. Singled out for scrutiny each time he travels, Sulayma cannot check-in online, is routinely pulled aside for additional searches, and has been questioned, cuffed, and detained for hours simply for trying to get where he needs to go. Like many other Muslims, he is a victim of a national security policy that has evaded accountability, but which continues to exist as a way of perpetuating the humiliation, demonization, and otherization of Muslims.