A recently published interview details the events surrounding a Canadian Minister’s experience traveling to the United States wearing a turban. The April 2017 incident involving Navdeep Bains was detailed in a report released on Thursday. Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development was traveling through Detroit Metro Airport when he was repeatedly requested to take off his turban.
Bains explained that he was forced to reveal his diplomatic passport after the security personnel pulled away from the boarding gate just 20 minutes before the scheduled departure. The guard requested again that Bains remove his turban because the proper protocol had not been followed at the original security check. This happened after Bains had already passed through the metal detector without incident.
Bains expressed concern after the incident, stating that being a Sikh means wearing the turban as a representation of both faith and community. Bains recognized that these unfortunate incidents do happen occasionally but that as citizens of the world, officials need to be careful not to make them the norm. Michael McCarthy, an official with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), said in an official statement that after their review of the situation, the closed-circuit video did indeed reveal that the security officers did not comply with official procedures in asking Bains to take off his turban. The officer in question has since received additional training. McCarthy went on to say that anybody wearing optional head coverings may be asked to comply with further screening procedures, but that these extra precautions are not limited to specific types of headwear and thus not intended to be construed as any type of racial profiling.
After the incident, Canadian government officials in Ottawa spoke with the US Embassy, as well as the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security. All of these organizations offered their apologies and regrets to both Bains and Canada.