US & Canada

US apologises after Canada MP asked to remove turban

Canada's Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains Image copyright Facebook / Navdeep Bains
Image caption Canada's Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains said US airport security made him "very uncomfortable"

US officials have apologised after a member of Justin Trudeau's cabinet was asked to remove his turban during an airport security search.

Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains, who is Sikh, says airport security behaved inappropriately when he travelled to Detroit last year.

They let him board his flight only after he revealed his diplomatic passport, he says.

It prompted Canada to complain to US officials, who apologised phone.

"It was an experience that made me uncomfortable," Mr Bains told Quebec newspaper La Presse.

He said security agents at a Detroit airport were "very insistent and very difficult" when he told them he did not want to remove his turban.

Security guards asked him to undergo special screening because of his turban, despite passing through the metal detector without incident, he claims.

Mr Bains agreed, but the test malfunctioned, he said. That is when the security official asked him to remove his turban for inspection. He pushed back, and asked them to do the test again.

"I never told them who I was, because I wanted to know how things would go for people who are not ministers or lawmakers," he told the newspaper.

When the test worked a second time, he proceeded to his gate. But at the gate, he said a security guard caught up with him and told him he would have to do the security check again and remove his turban.

This is when he took out his diplomatic passport, which identified him as a Canadian official.

The incident caused a minor diplomatic scuffle, prompting Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland to contact US officials, who apologised over the phone, according to CBC.

"We regret the screening experience did not meet the expectations of Mr Bains," Transportation Security Authority spokeswoman Michelle Negron told the BBC.

"Upon review of airport closed-circuit video, we determined that the officer conducting the screening did not follow standard operating procedures and therefore received additional training."

Ms Negron said that additional security screening may be required of individuals wearing head coverings, and that it applies to all head coverings and does not target any one group.

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