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Sikh-Canadian YouTuber and Comedian Told to Take off Turban at Airport

Sikh-Canadian YouTuber and Comedian Told to Take off Turban at Airport

Noorhan Amani

 

Several weeks ago, popular Canadian-Sikh YouTuber, Jasmeet Singh, known as JusReign, was heading home to Toronto, Canada, from San Francisco, after holding shows in the Bay Area. Unfortunately, however, his journey back home was far from smooth. While going through security at San Francisco International Airport on February 22, Singh was told by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to take off his turban (Many Sikh men wear turbans as part of their religious beliefs). Singh had passed  through a full-body scanner and metal detector and was cleared, yet a TSA officer told him an extra search needed to be done in a private room. 

Singh complied with the request and entered the private room, where he was asked to take off his turban. Singh requested to speak to a manager to find out if there was an alternative to taking off his turban (as this would be an inconvenience for him and since he had never been asked to do so in previous flights) and after he waited for about 20 minutes in the private room, the manager finally came around, giving Singh the option of either removing his turban, or booking a flight with another airline.

To avoid going through further inconveniences, and since he was in a private room, Singh agreed to take off his turban, which was run through the security x-ray machine and cleared. Once his turban was returned back to him, Singh requested a mirror so he could wrap his turban around correctly. TSA officers, however, did not have a mirror on hand and instead directed Singh to a restroom outside of the private room (this forced Singh to walk in public without his turban). 

For Singh, this was an embarrassing and humiliating ordeal. He tweeted his experience on his Twitter account and created a YouTube video on his channel about the dilemma, receiving support from thousands of fans across the world. 

Just a few weeks before Singh had gone through this situation, American-Sikh actor and model Waris Ahluwalia was denied from boarding an AeroMexico  flight because of his turban (airline personnel had asked Ahluwalia to take off his turban, but when he mentioned that he would only do so in a private room, he was denied from boarding his flight).  Ahluwalia posted about his experiences on his Instagram account and used the publicity he gained from his posts to start a conversation with AeroMexico about implementing sensitivity training for airline and airport personnel. AeroMexico responded to his request and mentioned that they would be planning to ask the US TSA and the Mexican government to do just that. 

As a young Muslim woman who wears a headscarf, or Hijab, I can closely relate to Singh's and Ahluwalia's experiences. I myself have been subject to extra pat-downs of my headscarf and clothing at airports, and it has become a routine occurrence for me and my family members. However, to think that I could be asked to remove my Hijab or be denied to board a flight is unsettling. Thankfully, Singh's and Ahluwalia's experiences have brought awareness to this issue, and currently, the TSA and Aeromexico are actively taking steps to ensure these kinds of incidents do not take place again in the future.


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