Battling discrimination with a smartphone application


By Hans Olav Arnesen

One of the most famous victims of the much feared backlash after the 9.11 attacks in 2001 was not even Muslim. Balbir Singh Sodhi was shot five times and killed by a fellow American who mistook him for a Muslim because of his turban. One might argue that it wouldn´t have made a difference whether Balbir Singh really had been a Muslim or not, but it adds to the tragedy that he was killed, not just out of bigotry and prejudice, but out of misplaced prejudice.

Even though the murder of Balbir Singh was appalling, there are more subtle ways of discriminating against sikhs that are far more common than murder and physical harassment. One place where Sikhs often feel discriminated against is at airport checkpoints. The Sikh Coalition decided it was time to do something about the profiling and discrimination of Sikhs at American and international airports. And what better way to do it than by modern communication technology in the shape of smartphones?

The Sikh Coalition has developed an application called FlyRights. The application is free and gives Sikhs the opportunity to report on discriminatory treatment at airports as it takes place. According to the Sikh Coalition the application was downloaded 5 000 times during the two first days after it´s release, which says something about the demand for such an application.

Perhaps a similar application will be available in the future for shabby looking non-Sikhs with long hair that face similar discrimination at airport security checks?







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