The U.S. Transportation Security Agency (TSA) has apologized for the conduct of airport security officials who asked a member of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Cabinet to remove his turban during a search.
Canadian Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains, who is Sikh, said airport security behaved inappropriately when he traveled to Detroit last year.
Officials let him board his flight only after he revealed his diplomatic passport, he said. The incident was “frustrating” and “speaks to discrimination,” Bains said, according to Canada’s CTV News.
Devout male followers of the Sikh faith, a monotheistic religion that originated in northern India, keep long beards and wear turbans. They have often been mistaken for Muslims and subjected to harassment and violence.
Bains said security agents at the Detroit airport were “very insistent and very difficult” when he told them he did not want to remove his turban.
Security guards asked him to undergo special screening because of his turban, despite the fact that he had passed through a metal detector without incident, he said.
A TSA spokeswoman said in a statement Thursday that in a review of video from the incident, the agency found that the officer screening Bains did not properly follow procedure.
“We regret the screening experience did not meet the expectations of Mr. Bains,” the statement said. It noted that passengers who wear “non-form-fitting headwear” for religious reasons might be unable to remove it and should be prepared for special security screenings.