Waris Ahluwalia, an actor and fashion designer who you may recognize from his appearances in the films of Wes Anderson, was pulled from an Aero Mexico flight just before takeoff today. It was not because he forgot to place his liquids in a quart-sized ziploc bag.
It was because, as a Sikh, Ahluwalia wears a turban, and to certain confused xenophobes, turbans are very scary. Ahluwalia told the New York Daily News that he was held in line as every other passenger boarded, then told he would be subjected to additional searches. From the News:
Ahluwalia, who has appeared in 17 films, including “Inside Man,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “The Darjeeling Limited,” said he complied with the “annoying” security measures, but drew the line when he was asked to remove his turban.
“That is not something that I would do in public,” he explained. “That’s akin to asking someone to take off their clothes.”
Ahluwalia said he would remove his turban if he were taken to a private screening room, he told the News, but that request was denied. Then, an employee told him he would “need to book another flight.”
The irony here is that the airline employees didn’t even get their boneheaded racist stereotype right. If you’re a close-minded coward, it’s Muslims you’re supposed to be have an irrational fear of, not Sikhs.
As nycsouthpaw notes, Ahluwalia’s role as a bank employee in Inside Man includes exactly the kind of discrimination he faced today. As NYPD officers circle him with rifles, one says “Oh shit, a fucking Arab,” to which Ahluwalia’s character replies, “I’m a Sikh!” Then the officers grab him, throw him to the ground, and forcibly remove his turban.