Airline requested actor remove religious headwear before boarding
Sikh actor and model Waris Ahluwalia claims he was barred from boarding an AeroMexico flight bound for New York on Monday because of his traditional turban.
41-year-old Ahluwalia – who has appeared in the Wes Anderson films, ‘The Darjeeling Limited’, ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’, and ‘The Life Aquatic’ – says he was stopped trying to board a flight to New York for fashion week.
Ahluwalia wrote on his Instagram account that whilst going through security, AeroMexico staff told him he would have to fly a more ‘inclusive’ airline when he refused to remove his holy headwear.
He then refused to board another flight until he received an apology.
Ahluwalia has asked for ‘a public apology from AeroMexico, Sikh awareness training for airport security, and training on how to screen passengers with religious headwear.’
Speaking with The Washington Post on Monday night, he said: “I realise that this isn’t about my convenience or getting home for lunch today. I realise that if I walk away, somebody else was going to go through this experience again.”
He added: “It doesn’t feel like a choice I can make. I don’t think I can just get on that plane.”
Ahluwalia has since returned to his New York home after talks with the airline and updated his followers on Instagram about his travels.
He wrote: “Home sweet home. Thank you to each and every one of you on social media for your support and for continuing the dialogue on tolerance and understanding of all cultures.
“It is with your help we were able to effect change. This is one small step forward for humanity. Keep the conversation alive, and with patience, LOVE will prevail.”
US guidelines, which were put into effect in 2010, no longer require air passengers to remove turbans if it makes them uncomfortable, and Sikhs have argued body scanners and metal detectors already make it unnecessary.
This is not the first time that Ahluwalia has been targeted because of his faith.
In 2013, he became the first Sikh man to appear in an advertising campaign for GAP.
Racist graffiti was then daubed over several billboards featuring Ahluwalia sporting a beard and turban.
The slogan for the national retailer’s holiday campaign was ‘Make Love’ but one person scrawled over a poster that appeared in The Bronx, ‘Make Bombs’. The offensive scribbles also included the line: ‘Please stop driving taxis!’.