In France, a Nation Examines Airport Security

Air travel, with its tens of thousands of employees, many of whom have easy access to security-sensitive areas such as aprons, tarmacs and airplane cargo holds and passenger compartments, remains the Achilles' heel of modern society. It is also a security nightmare.

In trying to secure airports large and small, seeing as they all inter-connect at some point, and the armies of people they employ, there is bound to be a weak link or two in the system. It is this link that Islamist terrorists are constantly looking to penetrate. And it is this very link that security, intelligence and counter-terrorism services are hoping to always remain ahead of by at least one step.

This past weekend French security services announced that 43 baggage handlers at Paris' Charles de Gaulle (Roissy) and Orly airports had their access badges suspended "for security reasons."

All 43 baggage handlers turned out to be Muslims, prompting Islamic groups in France to rush to their defense, claiming anti-Muslim discrimination was the real intention of the French authorities.

French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who is responsible for internal security in the country, and a leading candidate in the next French presidential elections, justified the government's decision to suspend the workers' badges: "We suspended 43 individuals. This was not racial profiling. There were specific elements that made us forbid them entry to sensitive areas of an airport," said Sarkozy.

Sarkozy is pushing a get-tough-on-immigration policy.

Immigration, particularly from Muslim countries, has become a hot topic in French political life and the subject is sure to feature high on the agenda of practically all candidates to the ElysĂ