The Mexican airline that barred an American Sikh actor from a flight for refusing to remove his turban in public has apologized.
Waris Ahluwalia was stopped yesterday from boarding an AeroMexico flight.
After initially saying only that it “regrets any inconvenience caused,” AeroMexico offered an official apology today.
“We apologize to Mr. Waris Ahluwalia for the unfortunate experience he encountered with one of our security guards during the boarding process on his flight to New York at the Mexico City International Airport. This incident inspires us to make sure that our safety personnel strengthens its customer service protocols, with full respect for the cultural and religious values of our customers.”
Earlier today, Ahluwalia told CNN he the apology was a “brilliant first step,” but is still refusing to leave Mexico until there is a “dialogue” with the airline about training their staff, and about the Sikh religion.
“The reason I am here on my own will is that I’m afraid if I leave this can happen again to someone else, and I can’t in good conscience allow that.”
Ahluwalia is known for his roles in several Wes Anderson films, as well as Canadian director Deepa Metha’s 2015 film Beeba Boys, based on the life of notorious Metro Vancouver gangster Bindy Johal.
He had been booked on a first class flight from Mexico City to New York, but was pulled aside for extra security screening, as signified by the “SSSS” on his boarding pass.
In an interview the New York Daily News, he says he’s used to being singled out for “random” screenings more than usual, and today was held back from other passengers for an additional pat downs and swabbing.
He says he asked for a private place to remove the religious headgear, but was refused, and balked when he was asked to remove his turban in public.
“That is not something that I would do in public,” he told the paper. “That’s akin to asking someone to take off their clothes.”
The Daily News reports when Ahluwalia refused, he was told he would not be flying Aeromexico, and would have to book a new flight.
Ahluwalia, who is also a well known jewelry designer, was on his way to New York Fashion Week. After the incident, he posted to Instagram to say he might be “a little late.”
That prompted Ahluwalia to remain in Mexico City in protest, refusing to leave until he got a public apology from the airline, along with better training for security staff.
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Story updated with AeroMexico’s response