Kids Corner

Current Events

United States Apologizes To Sikh-Canadian Cabinet Minister





Officials from the Trump administration issued an apology after a security agent at a Detroit airport repeatedly demanded that a Canadian cabinet minister remove his turban, the minister has revealed.

Navdeep Singh Bains, the country’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, described the incident on Thursday, May 10, 2018.

Navdeep Singh was returning to Toronto after meetings with Michigan state leaders in April 2017 and had already passed through regular security checks, but because he was wearing a turban, a security agent told him that he would have to undergo additional checks.

“He told me to take off my turban. I asked him why I would have to take off my turban when the metal detector had worked properly,” the Minister said. The US amended its travel policy in 2007, allowing Sikhs to keep turbans on while passing during the security inspection process.

“It was an uncomfortable experience,” said Minister Navdeep Singh.

He refused the agent’s request to remove his turban: “I believed that it was an intrusion into my private life … They would never ask me to take off my clothes,” he said. The agent eventually relented.

Navdeep Singh said that when he travels, he rarely discloses his identity as a Cabinet Minister in order to better understand the travel experiences – and frustrations – of people not afforded similar privileges.

When he appeared at his scheduled gate, a second security agent approached him, requesting Navdeep Singh return to the security checkpoint – and again telling him to remove his head-covering.

“He told me: ‘You have to take off your turban.’ I responded politely that it was not a security threat and that I had passed all the security controls. Then he asked for my name and identification. I reluctantly gave him my diplomatic passport.”

It was the moments that followed which most incensed Navdeep Singh.

“I was speechless … I was at the point of boarding and they asked me to take off my turban. But upon learning of my diplomatic status, they told me that everything is fine. That’s not a satisfactory response.”

The incident prompted Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland to express disappointment to her US counterparts. Both undersecretaries for the US Homeland Security and the US Transportation departments apologized for the incident.

Canada has more Sikh ministers than any other country in the world. In the 2015 election, 20 Sikhs were elected members of parliament and four – Navdeep Singh Bains, Harjit Singh Sajjan, Amarjeet Singh Sohi and Bardish Kaur Chagger – were appointed as Federal Cabinet Ministers.

“Unfortunately these types of incidents do occur from time to time to minorities in particular. But it should never become the norm,” Navdeep Singh said in a statement. “I will continue to promote diversity and inclusion across the country as our government has done since we took office. It is exactly why I ran for office.”

[Courtesy: The Guardian. Edited for]
May 11, 2018

Conversation about this article

1: I J Singh (N. Bellmore, New York, USA), May 11, 2018, 10:21 AM.

Over the years such incidents have happened often enough and continue; the rate depending on the local political aura. The Trump presidency doesn't help. We need to look at ourselves (Sikhs) as a nation without borders and have a continuous religio-political campaign. For a minority like us the campaign has to remain unending both for us and the host country that is our new home.

2: Bhupinder Singh Mahal (Mississauga. Ontario, Canada), May 11, 2018, 1:44 PM.

Transport Security Administration (TSA) promised to amend their headdress guidelines following the humiliation Charanjit Singh Ghai suffered in August 2007 when ordered to remove his turban and unfurl his long hair at the San Francisco International Airport. To subject Navdeep Singh Bains, a decade later, to a similar demeaning experience is proof that TSA has failed to spare Sikhs of the indignities of air travel. These humiliating experiences are a product of ignorance of ethno-cultural and religious sensitivities of minorities. It is essential that TSA provide its security recruits with sensitivity training to prevent discrimination and harassment.

3: G J Singh (Scottsdale. Arizona, USA), May 13, 2018, 2:35 PM.

It is not going to change in the USA unless the TSA is held responsible for not following its own directives. The only way to do that is to bring a class action suit against the USA and its federal government and it has to be for big $$$, for violating human rights of the Sikhs. The dollar is the king in the USA and you got to hit the law-breakers where it hurts. Enough is enough. Sikhs have always been fighting for injustice, no matter who the victims. Here we are the wronged ones, so let's demand our rights. Remember, even God does not support people who do not have the courage to ask for their rights.

Comment on "United States Apologizes To Sikh-Canadian Cabinet Minister "

To help us distinguish between comments submitted by individuals and those automatically entered by software robots, please complete the following.

Please note: your email address will not be shown on the site, this is for contact and follow-up purposes only. All information will be handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy. Sikhchic reserves the right to edit or remove content at any time.