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January 6, 2010

Extra checks on passengers flying into US draws criticism

     Washington: The Obama administration's decision to carry out extra security checks, including full-body pat downs, on people flying into the United States from 14 mostly Muslim countries has provoked criticism from foreign officials. Under the new rules, all citizens of Afghanistan, Algeria, Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen must receive a pat down and an extra check of their carry-on bags before boarding a plane bound for the United States, while citizens of Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria -nations considered "state sponsors of terrorism"- face the same requirement. Nigeria's Information Minister Dora Akunyili said that United States's decision was unreasonable and they cannot declare the entire population suspects for the reason that a 23-year-old Nigerian man was accused of hiding explosives in his undergarments on a flight to Detroit. "It is unfair to discriminate against over 150 million people because of the behavior of one person," The New York Times quoted Akunyili, as saying. Meanwhile, the Algerian ambassador to the United States, Abdallah Baali, said that he would file a protest once he was given formal notice of the change. "The United States has the right to protect the security of its citizens. But this is discrimination against the citizens of Algeria, who do not pose any particular risk to the people of the United States," Baali said.
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