About to catch an AeroMexico flight from Mexico City to New York City, Waris Ahluwalia experienced racial profiling firsthand after being told he could not board his flight because of his beard and turban.
The actor and designer, who was on his way to New York Fashion Week, took to Instagram on Monday to share an image of himself holding up his boarding pass marked with an additional security screening. The Brooklyn-raised Sikh captioned the photo "#FearIsAnOpportunityToEducate."
The 41-year-old actor, famous for his role in the Wes Anderson film, "The Grand Budapest Hotel" and TIFF-premiered filmed, "Beeba Boys," told New York Daily News that he complied with additional security and search measures but refused to remove his dastar, a style of turban considered mandatory in the Sikh religion, which had not triggered a metal detector.
"That is not something that I would do in public," he told the paper and added that AeroMexico did not provide him with a private screening room. "That's akin to asking someone to take off their clothes."
Another Instagram post followed mere hours later with Ahluwalia, who made headlines in 2013 as the first Sikh man in a national Gap ad campaign, writing, "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. #LoveNotFear"
In a statement released to The Huffington Post by AeroMexico, a spokesperson confirmed Ahluwalia's removal from the flight.
"About the situation of passenger Waris Ahluwalia, Aeromexico reports that he was asked to submit to screening and inspection before boarding, in strict compliance with TSA protocol," the spokesperson said in an email to HuffPost. "We have offered the passenger to alternatives to reach his destination as soon as possible. We sincerely regret any inconvenience caused by this incident."
In a third Instagram post, The House of Waris designer wrote, "All we're asking for from AeroMexico is an apology and education/training of the staff," after being held up in Mexico City airport for more than 13 hours.
New York Daily News reports Ahluwalia has filed a discrimination claim with Mexican officials, but has not heard from the government.
"It's quite unfortunate that they've decided to place the blame on policy," the actor told NY Daily News. "All I'm trying to do is have a conversation with them and say, 'Hey, let's figure this out.' If we approach this the right way, only good can come of this, so it doesn't happen again."
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