In an interview with La Presse, the minister has revealed that the Trump administration has apologized to him after he wound up at the epicenter of a diplomatic scandal while traveling back to Canada from the United States.
“He [security agent] told me to take off my turban. I asked him why I would have to take off my turban when the metal detector had worked properly,” Bains told the newspaper, adding that he rejected the agent’s request, as he believed “it was an intrusion” into his privacy.
While the first security officer let him go, Bains was approached by another agent at his flight gate, demanding that the minister go back to the checkpoint and remove his turban.
“He told me: ‘You have to take off your turban.’ I responded politely that it was not a security threat and that I had passed all the security controls. Then he asked for my name and identification. I reluctantly gave him my diplomatic passport,” Bains proceeded to say, adding that as soon as the security personnel found out his diplomatic status, they allowed him to board the aircraft.
“Unfortunately these types of incidents do occur from time to time to minorities in particular. But it should never become the norm. I will continue to promote diversity and inclusion across the country as our government has done since we took office. It is exactly why I ran for office,” he said in a statement.
Social media users, including fellow Sikhs, voiced support for the minister, calling to raise public awareness about the significance of turbans for Sikhs:
When Canadian Minister @NavdeepSBains can b subjected to such racial treatment; imagine what ordinary Sikhs without diplomatic passport go through!— Manjinder S Sirsa (@mssirsa) 11 мая 2018 г.
Kudos to Bains fr his stand & well done Canada on sending a strong message!
We all must unite to create awareness abt Sikhs’ turban pic.twitter.com/zpliX0DAlS
Dear @TSA, Sikhs are saddened by the treatment meted out to them at US Airports. Even notable Sikhs like Canadian Minister, @NavdeepSBains are subject to harassment. Removing a Sikh's Turban is same as strip searching him. It is humiliating & contemptible. https://t.co/ENPCr6Yycu— Harjinder Singh Kukreja (@SinghLions) 11 мая 2018 г.
WTF Detroit Airport? This is both uncool and against the rules. For any passenger, and not just a visiting minister from Canada. You cannot just make a Sikh passenger take off this turban! https://t.co/rXkkvq7SpB— Naunihal Singh (@naunihalpublic) 11 мая 2018 г.
Some US citizens have expressed sympathy for Bains, highlighting that ordinary Sikhs wouldn’t get any press coverage:
What about the other Sikhs whore told to do the same thing? They don’t get press coverage. We Americans are so ignorant!— Pam Hart (@alemap87) 11 мая 2018 г.
He got an apology but what about all of the others that get mistreated daily— Russell T (@RTrostel) 10 мая 2018 г.
He is using his position to bring the situation to light in the hope of helping others who are mistreated by people using their power to intimidate and discriminate.— June Hughes (@JuneHug84591436) 11 мая 2018 г.
In 2007, the United States issued Sikh Air Travelers’ Bill of Rights, stipulating that Sikhs have the right to wear turbans and religious scarves during security screenings in US airports, as well as the right not to remove their head-covering in public.