Latin America & Caribbean

Mexico: Sikh actor barred from flying to US 'because of turban'

Picture of Waris Ahluwalia with his ticket Image copyright Instagram
Image caption Mr Ahluwalia pictured with his ticket showing the "SSSS" stamp denoting extra screening

A Sikh actor has claimed he was barred from boarding an Aeromexico plane because of his turban.

Indian-American Waris Ahluwalia, who is also a designer, said he was prevented from boarding after he refused to remove his turban in public.

The incident happened during additional security checks before a flight from Mexico City to New York.

Aeromexico said it had complied with security protocols and it regretted any "inconvenience".

He posted a picture of the ticket on his Instagram account. It carried an "SSSS" stamp, an acronym for Secondary Security Screening Selection, an airport measure that selects passengers for additional screening. The selection is said to be random.

Mr Ahluwalia, who has appeared in The Grand Budapest Hotel and starred in a campaign for American clothing brand GAP, said he was on his way to New York Fashion Week.

In an interview with the New York Daily News, Mr Ahluwalia said he had complied with the additional checks but refused to remove his turban when he was asked by airline personnel to do so.

"That is not something that I would do in public," he was quoted as saying. "That's akin to asking someone to take off their clothes."

Image copyright Instagram
Image caption Many users have expressed solidarity and support on his Instagram account
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Ahluwalia appeared in The Grand Budapest Hotel

Mr Ahluwalia added that when he said he would not take his turban off without going to a private room, he was told that he would not be flying and would have to book another flight.

"I was shaking at first," he told the News. "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."

In a statement, Aeromexico said that he was asked to go through "screening and inspection before boarding, in strict compliance with TSA protocol" - a reference to the US Transportation Security Administration.

"We have offered the passenger alternatives to reach his destination as soon as possible", it said.

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