Why Sikhs are discriminated against

Discrimination: Sikh resists airport controls

Waris Ahluwalia is used to being screened particularly strictly at international airports. As a Sikh, with a turban and full beard, he attracts the attention of the security forces. Extra controls, particular thoroughness, even a close examination of his feet: the designer and actor who, among other things, as a model for a major US fashion brand and his role in Grand Budapest Hotel became known, has experienced all kinds of discrimination.

In Mexico City, too, Ahluwalia had to undergo two rounds of checks when checking in for his flight home to New York. When he thought he was through everything, a security guard approached the US citizen of Indian origin and asked him to take off his turban. Ahluwalia no longer wanted to put up with that. He refused, which meant that the Aeromexico airline refused to carry him.

Ahluwalia made the incident public on social networks. An Instagram post shows him after the inspection. "My turban and my beard stand for my commitment to equality and justice," Ahluwalia is quoted in a message from the Sikh Association in the USA. Aeromexico reacted quickly and offered a new flight, which Ahluwalia refused. "If the security guards react with bigotry and fear, I'll take a flight that is more inclusive."

Airline relies on US regulations

For the airline, the incident is developing into a PR disaster. Aeromexico announced in a statement that, of course, all passengers would be carried, regardless of their religion. However, one must adhere to the regulations of the US aviation safety authority when flying to the USA.

In fact, special rules apply to turbans. According to the Sikh Association, security personnel are instructed to check headgear on flights to the United States. The precondition is the consent of the carrier. In the event of a refusal, the rules provide for an intensive review in a separate room.

The situation of the followers of the religion, which was founded in North India, is difficult in the USA anyway. "The symbols of religious identity - the turban, the beard - are associated with terrorism," said a representative of the Sikh association of the Washington Post.

Protest in the terminal

In Mexico City, Ahluwalia has still not flown to New York hours after the incident. "It's not just about my comfort or coming home for lunch," he said Washington Post. "If I leave, someone else will have the same experience." In protest, he wants to stay in the terminal until three demands are met, which have been summarized in a tweet by the Sikh Association.