The Trump administration has apologized to a Canadian cabinet minister who was repeatedly asked to remove his turban at a Detroit airport. Minister of Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Navdeep Bains, who's religiously obligated to wear a turban as a Sikh, publicly discussed the April 2017 incident on Thursday, saying the incident at Detroit Metro Airport following a meeting with the Michigan governor highlights the "discrimination" some travelers encounter, per the CBC. Bain's trip took a turn when he was asked to undergo additional security tests. After reading a false positive from a swab, an agent asked Bains to remove his turban, but allowed him to continue to his gate after an alternative check, the minister says. Twenty minutes before his flight home, however, Bains says an agent appeared, saying protocol required that he return to security to remove his turban.
The scene ended with Bains flashing his diplomatic passport. But "it was because of who I was [that I was allowed to fly] and that should not be the case," he says, per USA Today. "It doesn't matter what your status is and what your position is." Though "very frustrated and disappointed," Bains says he's accepted verbal apologies offered by the Homeland Security and Transportation undersecretaries, per the CBC. Still, "discrimination happens with many people, and I'm in a very fortunate position to talk about it," he says. Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan, also a Sikh, has since acknowledged similar encounters at airports, including in Canada, per CTV News. While a TSA rep admits the agent screening Bains didn't follow procedure, he notes all headwear may be checked for "prohibited items or weapons" in a policy "not directed at any one particular item or group."