Several states in North America had declared the month of April as Sikh Appreciation/Awareness Month – but we are barely out of April and yet another incident of prejudice has come to light. Navdeep Bains, Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, in a recent interview, mentioned that after having passed the usual security checks at the Detroit Metro Airport, he was asked to remove his turban as an extra security measure.
Bains mentioned during the interview with the online newspaper La Presse, that he initially went through a metal detector without any problem but was then asked to go through an additional security procedure because of his turban.
An agent asked him to go through another screening but the machine seemed not to be working properly. When it emitted a warning sound, a security officer asked Bains to remove his turban. Bains told the newspaper, “I asked him why I had to take off my turban since the metal detector had worked well. I will never be asked to take my clothes off. It’s the same thing. It’s a piece of linen.”
After passing a second test Bains was allowed to continue, but when he reached the boarding gate, less than 20 minutes before departure, a security guard approached him and said he had to go back to security because protocol had not been followed, where the security officer once again asked Bains to remove the turban.
It was at this point that Bains was forced to show them his diplomatic passport, which he usually avoids as a rule. Sure this created a ruffle at the airport and the security officials immediately apologized – but the damage was done – resulting in the US government having to officially apologize for the incident.
This is just another case of religious discrimination and goes on to show that most Americans are still woefully unaware of the religious importance of the turban to any Sikh. Such incidents occur every day – but far too few get reported as the consequences of common people raising their voice would definitely be much harsher.
Awareness, education and mutual respect for every individual are the only means to promote inclusivity and deter such incidents from happening time and again.