Airport security tight as Muslims go to Mecca
Posted Thursday, October 3 2013 at 01:00
Muslims claim they are thoroughly checked, but authorities say they are profiling some people from suspected countries.
Muslims travelling to Saudi Arabia for their annual pilgrimage have accused Entebee International Airport authorities of victimising them after they stepped up security following terrorist attacks in Kenya recently.
Many Muslims, whose relatives started travelling to holy cities of Mecca and Medina, at the weekend blamed security personnel at the airport for blocking them from escorting them. Mr Sula Mugula, a pilgrim, said it was absurd for people to be treated like aliens in their own country because they subscribe to a certain religion or dress differently.
Entebbe airport commandant Dodovic Awita, however, dismissed the allegations, saying they beefed up security before Muslims stated travelling to Mecca. “We are not interrogating people with long beards. We are only profiling people from some suspected countries because the country is on a terror alert,” he said, adding “I cannot, however, mention the countries for security reasons.”
Mr Awita said they agreed with Muslim leaders not to allow many people at the airport because it could disrupt other operations. “Ugandans were not allowed to travel to Mecca last year. This year the number has more than doubled and we agreed with the leaders to only allow one car and leave all those accompanying them out to reduce congestion,” he said.
Police have been on alert after terrorists stormed Westgate Mall in Nairobi killing at least 60 people.