Ashini Fernando

Mo Farah and the Problem with Racial Profiling

On 5th March, Mo Farah, four-time Olympic gold medallist was changing flights in Munich on his way to Ethiopia. In an Instagram live video lasting less than 60 seconds, he record what he described as racial profiling.

The allegation of racial harassment was later denied by a representative of the German Federal Police. They stated that Farah was selected for a passenger security check and this was not racially motivated.

In the video posted by the distance runner, we can only hear him say that the officer is pushing him. This is justified by the German Federal Police as a consequence of Farah recording videos in the security checkpoint area, where filming is not allowed.

The issue is not that of racial harassment; apart from the pushing, it does not happen in the video. Racial profiling is a wider issue that needs to be addressed.

As definition, racial profiling is: “The use of race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed an offence.” In specific, at an airport this happens by singling out an individual based on their race or ethnicity for additional checks or, in the worst case, to leave the plane.

For people who are racially profiled, regularly travelling becomes even more dreadful. They are not picked randomly, as countless witnesses report there’s hardly any white person waiting to be checked with them.

As someone who’s been body searched, the feeling of being touched closely by a stranger, even if of the same sex, is not at all pleasant. Then comes the shame of everyone seeing you singled out, making you feel wrong even when you didn’t do anything.

Additionally other checks can take place, such as questioning. The most alienating experience for most beings going back home. Some British citizens have reported being questioned on going back to their parents in the UK. They are asked questions about their origin and life abroad even though they have a British passport.

What’s worrying about Farah’s video is the officer pushing him, rather than rarely, if not never, hear similar stories from white people.

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