Hollywood actor Waris Ahluwalia barred from boarding flight


In an act of racial discrimination, Indian-American actor Waris Ahluwalia was barred from boarding an Aeromexico flight from Mexico City to New York on Monday, because he refused to remove his turban.

Ahluwalia who dons many hats as a jewellery designer, a retailer, an actor and a model, posted a picture of himself holding his boarding pass on Instagram and wrote, “This morning in Mexico City I was told I could not board my Aeromexico flight to NYC because of my turban.”

The House of Waris chief who was going to attend the New York’s fashion week also posted, “Dear NYC fashion week. I may be a little late as @aeromexico won't let me fly with a turban. Don't start the show without me.”

Speaking to the New York Times from the airport in Mexico City, the actor-designer said that when he showed up to board the flight, his feet and bag were searched and swabbed, he was told to remove a sweatshirt and he was patted down. He said he was asked to take off his turban, and when he refused, they forbade him to get on the flight.  

According to Ahluwalia, he was given a boarding pass with a code that he said meant he needed secondary security screening. The letter 'S' was printed on it four times and encircled which he said, were meant to alert airline crew that a passenger must go through an extra security check.

In a statement issued late on Monday, the Mexican airline said that it was obligated to follow "federal requirements in terms of security determined by the US Transportation Security Administration to review passengers." It further said it "regrets the inconvenience that any passenger may perceive from the application of these procedures" and it vowed to transport all passengers regardless of their religious beliefs.

This is not for the first time that Ahluwalia has been targeted in the US. In December 2013, his ad for clothier Gap was defaced in a subway station with slurs like "Please stop driving taxis."

Ahluwalia is known for his role the Oscar-nominated film ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’, ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ and ‘Inside Man’among others. He also appeared in the American television series ‘The Carrie Diaries.’

A United States based civil rights NGO, The Sikh Coalition has expressed shock over the incident calling it "shameful".