Sikh man barred from Mexico flight sees ‘small victory’
Waris Ahluwalia was turned away from an airline flight after refusing to remove his Sikh turban
An Indian-American actor and designer who was turned away from an airline flight after refusing to remove his Sikh turban during a security check said he’s “thrilled” that Aeromexico is vowing to overhaul its screening protocols.
In an interview Tuesday night at a Mexico City hotel where he ended up extending his stay by two nights, Waris Ahluwalia also expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support on social media that he believes helped pressure airline executives to change and apologize.
Ahluwalia showed an excerpt from an email that he said came from Aeromexico. The text said the airline had “issued a directive to its staff regarding the religious significance of the Sikh turban” and planned to ask that the U.S. Transportation Security Administration and the Mexican government implement sensitivity training on religious headwear for airport agents.
“That’s all I wanted, and here it is in a few lines — it’s right there in black and white,” he said. “I’m getting goosebumps right now that if this makes a difference for anyone traveling into the country or leaving the country, then it was all worth it.”
He said the agreement had been worked out by lawyers for Aeromexico and the Sikh Coalition in New York and the deal had not yet been made public.
Aeromexico said earlier in the day that because of the incident it intended to revise security protocols to respect cultural and religious values of its customers.
The turban carries deep religious significance for Sikh men. Many members of the Sikh community have objected to the practice of frisking turbans, calling it unnecessary in a world with machines for body scanning and metal detection.