Canadian minister asked to take off turban at Detroit airport, US regrets


Canadian cabinet Navdeep Bains was subjected to a discriminatory security check at a U.S. airport previous year when he was asked to remove his turban just before boarding a flight.

Bains was returning to Toronto after meetings with MI state leaders in April 2017 and had already passed through regular security checks, but because he was wearing a turban, a security agent told him that he would have to undergo additional checks, according to La Presse.

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains says the incident only ended when the security people realized who he was.

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The minister said when they realized who he was they allowed him to travel and not take it off. Bains told Canada's foreign minister who then complained to United States officials.

Bains said he initially went through a metal detector without any problem, but was then asked to go through an additional security procedure because of his turban.

He said the experience was awkward and described the security agents as "very insistent and very hard".

"I was speechless. I was at the point of boarding and they asked me to take off my turban".

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"I will continue to promote diversity and inclusion across the country as our government has done since we took office", Bains said.

"There was a swab test on my turban, there seemed to be a malfunction with the machine and I was ultimately allowed to go through after the second test was conducted", he said.

Bains added that wearing a turban is "one of the most dutiful acts for a person of the faith". "I reluctantly gave him my diplomatic passport". It was only then, Bains said, that he showed them his diplomatic passport and was allowed to board his flight back to Canada.

"He told me: 'You have to take off your turban.' I responded politely that it was not a security threat and that I had passed all the security controls".

In the Sikh religion men are required to wear the turban. "But it should never become the norm", Bains said in a statement. After that, the USA government acknowledged that the officers made a mistake and apologized.

In a statement to CNN, a spokesperson for the TSA said that they "determined that the officer conducting the screening did not follow standard operating procedures", adding that people wearing head coverings may be subject to additional security measures to ensure they are not carrying concealed weapons.

He said the issue "speaks to discrimination" and was the first time that's happened to him, adding that U.S. officials apologised.