United States regrets asking Canada minister to remove turban


Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains says he was asked to remove his turban during what he called an awkward incident at a checkpoint in the Detroit airport a year ago.

In 2007, U.S. travel policy was adjusted to permit followers of the Sikh religion to keep their headgear on during security inspection.

He said U.S. officials expressed regret and apologized and he's accepted the apology.

He said there were challenges with the swab machine and he was recalled from the gate and brought back to security where he was asked to take the turban off.

He added: "I never told them who I was [till then], because I wanted to know how things would go for people who are not ministers or lawmakers".

But the minister says his position should not have mattered and that procedures were not followed properly in the incident. However, after he was allowed through, the security guard caught up with him and asked him to come back for more screening.

He said the agent asked for his name and ID, and it was then that he showed his diplomatic passport.

Both undersecretaries for the U.S. homeland security and transportation departments apologised for the incident.

"I went through all the security checks without revealing my identity as a minister", he told La Presse. It was then that Bains pulled out his diplomatic passport and was allowed to board his flight. But upon learning of my diplomatic status, they told me that everything is fine. I was at the point of boarding and they asked me to take off my turban.

"I've actually had it in Canada", Sajjan said, noting that it's not an issue exclusive to the USA and that he's gone through the US system smoothly. "That's not a satisfactory response", Bains was quoted as saying by Guardian.

"The officer subsequently received additional training", the government agency said.

The US officials expressed regret and apologised for the behaviour and he's accepted the apology.

"All persons wearing head coverings may be subject to additional security screening, which may include an officer-conducted or self-conducted pat-down", he said.

"This policy covers all headwear and is not directed at any one particular item or group", he said. In the 2015 election, 20 Sikhs were elected members of parliament and four - Bains, Harjit Sajjan, Amarjeet Sohi and Bardish Chagger - were appointed as federal ministers.