Actor Waris Ahluwalia, a practicing member of the Sikh faith, was barred from boarding a flight to the United States because of his turban, he said on Monday.
Ahluwalia, who's appeared in numerous films, including Wes Anderson's "The Grand Budapest Hotel" and "The Darjeeling Limited," detailed the incident on his Instagram account, where he posted a photo of himself holding his Aero Mexico plane ticket. The actor explained in the image's caption, "This morning in Mexico City I was told I could not board my @aeromexico flight to NYC because of my turban."
In an interview with the New York Daily News, Ahluwalia, a New York City resident, said that he was singled out for an intensive security screening (denoted by the "SSSS," which stands for Secondary Security Screening Selection, scrawled on his ticket) that involved an invasive pat-down "to the soles of his feet," as well as a bag search and swab test for explosive residue. Here's how the rest of the incident unfolded, per the News:
[Ahluwalia] complied with the "annoying" security measures, but drew the line when he was asked to remove his turban.
"That is not something that I would do in public," he explained. "That's akin to asking someone to take off their clothes."
Ahluwalia said he asked to be taken to a private screening room, but was denied.
"You will not be flying Aero Mexico," an airline employee told him, Ahluwalia said. "You will need to book another flight."
"I was shaking at first," he said. "That's not a nice thing to be told, that you are not allowed to fly on this plane because of something you are wearing, or because of your religious beliefs."
The actor was able to book a later flight on Delta airlines on Monday to return home, but told the News that "he would fly Aero Mexico again if the carrier publicly apologizes and commits to training staff on how to work with Sikhs and to screen passengers with religious headwear."
Aero Mexico released a statement about the incident on Monday, though it did not apologize to the actor. The airline said that Ahluwalia "was asked to submit to screening and inspection before boarding, in strict compliance with TSA protocol," and claimed that they attempted to make other travel arrangements on the actor's behalf.
"We sincerely regret any inconvenience caused by this incident," the airline's statement added.
[via: Waris Ahluwalia, New York Daily News]
Photo credit: Getty Images for DIFF