Airport security especially ratcheted up racial profiling, marking any Middle Eastern sign or symbol is considered as a suspicious target, in the west and the US. Even the turbaned individuals with no such remote affiliation have become a ‘target of discriminatory conduct’. Recently an Indian-American Sikh actor and designer Waris Ahluwalia, 41, was barred from boarding a flight home to New York from Mexico. He was apparently asked to take off his turban and he responded by refusing to, after which they said that he will not be allowed on the flight.
The actor also took a photo of himself and his boarding pass for an Aeromexico flight back to NYC, explaining in a caption that he had been prohibited from boarding. "I responded...that I won't be taking off my turban," adding "And then they talked amongst themselves and they said, 'OK, then you are not getting on the flight'", said the Sikh-American. He said he was told by another airline security official that he would not be boarding any other Aeromexico flight until he met their security demands.
The Indian-American who is also the House of Waris chief, was heading to New York’s fashion week. In his post he said ‘Dear NYC fashion week, I may be a little late as Aeromexico won’t let me fly with a turban, so don’t start the show without me.
Ahluwalia informed that he checked in at the Aeromexico counter at Mexico City's international airport, he was provided with his first-class boarding pass with a code that he said meant he needed secondary security screening. When Ahluwalia showed up at the gate to board Flight 408 to New York City, Ahluwalia said, attendants informed him that he is required to step aside and wait for other passengers to board. He was further asked to take off his turban, as a frisking procedure, the procedure which he declined to follow.
Removing a Sikh's turban is considered as an insult to the Sikh faith. The turban symbolizes self-respect and piety — “touching of the head dress in public is not allowed” and is mandated to be removed “only in the most intimate of circumstances”.
The airline later issued a statement saying it is obligated to follow “federal requirements in terms of security determined by the US Transportation Security Administration to review passengers”. It further said it regrets the inconvenience any passenger may perceive from the application of the procedures.
Waris Ahluwalia is an actor and a designer based in Manhattan known for his House of Waris jewellery line and other design work. The actor has also appeared in the Oscar nominated film ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ and the US TV series ‘The Carrie Diaries’.