Caution in the air is justified
Reports of a major thwarted airline bombing plot are fresh on your mind. Airports around the world are on high alert in anticipation of more terrorist attacks. You notice a dozen young men of ‘South Asian’ origin board on the plane. Their behaviour is different from that of other passengers. They “fidget with their mobile phones”, plastic bags and laptop computers. They don’t listen to the crew and exchange seats. Reporting and restraining them in such circumstances would be an act of caution, not racism. Yet racism is what the relatives of the suspects—since proven innocent—are making it out to be. The religious dimension is also bogus—for not everyone who is ‘South Asian’ and Muslim is singled out for such treatment. It was their behaviour that made them suspect.
Let’s face it. The “people like us” in Pakistan have made us all targets of suspicion. There can be a fair debate over racial and religious profiling. But going by most media reports, it does not apply to this boorish dozen from Mumbai. They have only themselves to blame. The Dutch government has been gracious enough to apologise. This is as correct as their decision to err on the side of caution. That should be good enough for everyone.
Update: This incident is hardly worth a diplomatic row. The Indian government would do well not to pursue this matter further once the rhetorical phase is over.