Mexico City: A Mexican airline is now at the centre of a controversy after it barred a turban-wearing Sikh actor from boarding its flight to New York City.
Waris Ahluwalia, also a designer, was not allowed to board the plane as he refused to remove his turban during the security check, American media reported.
The incident happened on Monday in Mexico's capital, Mexico City.
Waris Ahluwalia, a Sikh, had checked in at the Aeroméxico counter at Mexico City’s international airport at around 5:30 am. He was given a first-class boarding pass at the counter carrying a code which, according to him, implied he require a secondary security screening.
The actor said the crew of Mexico's national flag carrier first made him wait at the gate of Flight 408 to New York City to let other passengers board. Later, during the second security check, his feet and bag were searched, he was asked to remove his sweatshirt and was patted down. The airline crew did not stop at this and told him to remove his turban.
“I responded matter-of-factly that I won’t be taking off my turban. And then they talked amongst themselves and they said, ‘OK, then you are not getting on the flight’, ” The New York Times quoted Ahluwalia as saying.
The US actor further said the airline officials told him that he would not be allowed to board any Aeroméxico flight unless he takes off his turban for security check.
“It (turban) is a symbol of my faith. It is something that I wear whenever I am in public,” Ahluwalia said.
— Sikh Coalition (@sikh_coalition) February 8, 2016
The airline later issued a statement saying it was only following Transportation Security Administration protocol in asking the US actor to take off his turban. The statement added that Ahluwalia had been offered alternatives to “reach his destination as soon as possible.”
41-year-old Ahluwalia is based in Manhattan and is well-known for his House of Waris jewellry line.