Sikh Actor and Model Waris Ahluwalia Barred From Aeromexico Flight Over Turban

Indian-American star remains in Mexico City after refusing to remove his turban.

February 09, 2016, 3:41 PM
PHOTO: Actor Waris Ahluwalia poses during a portrait session on day seven of the 12th annual Dubai International Film Festival on Dec. 15, 2015 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Actor Waris Ahluwalia poses during a portrait session on day seven of the 12th annual Dubai International Film Festival on Dec. 15, 2015 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

— -- Sikh actor and designer Waris Ahluwalia remains in Mexico City, a day after he says he was barred from boarding an Aeromexico flight to New York for refusing to remove his turban in public during a security screening.

"Good morning from Mexico City. On this day, and each day hereafter we must remember that our struggle against fear and ignorance is fought with love. That is the only way forward for humanity," Ahluwalia, 41, wrote on Instagram today.

The Indian-American model, who has not responded to ABC News’ requests for comment, wrote that he was on his way back to his hometown New York City Monday for Fashion Week when he was barred from boarding his 7:15 a.m. flight after he refused to remove his turban at the boarding gate.

"This morning in Mexico City I was told I could not board my @aeromexico flight to NYC because of my turban," Waris Ahluwalia wrote on Instagram Monday, alongside a photo of his holding up his boarding pass.

Hours later, he posted another photo of himself in front of Aeromexico's customer service counter.

"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," he wrote.

Ahluwalia said he spent the night in Mexico City, where he waited for an apology from the airline and some assurance that security officials would receive training on how to handle passengers with religious headwear.

"Update. 13 hours later. Still in Mexico City. No traveler should be subjected to what I was today. All we're asking for from @aeromexico is an apology and education/training of the staff," Ahluwalia wrote on Instagram late Monday night.

Just after midnight, Aeoromexico released a statement, apologizing to Ahluwalia.

"Aeromexico is a global airline that operates flights in different countries throughout the world, and proudly embraces and recognizes the diversity of its passengers," the statement, obtained by ABC News, read. "Every day we work to ensure strict compliance with the highest safety standards while we respect and value the culture and beliefs of our customers.

"We apologize to Mr. Waris Ahluwalia for the unfortunate experience he encountered with one of our security guards during the boarding process on his flight to New York at the Mexico City International Airport," the statement continued. "This incident inspires us to make sure that our safety personnel strengthens its customer service protocols, with full respect for the cultural and religious values of our customers."

In an interview with CNN today, Ahluwalia called the apology a "brilliant first step," but said he was remaining in Mexico "until we can have a dialogue about training their staff."

"This is about education," he said.

According to the Sikh Coalition, the turban symbolizes commitment to the 500-year-old faith.

While noting that Ahluwalia was not screened by Transportation Security Administration employees, a TSA spokesperson told ABC News, "With respect to screening conducted at U.S. airports, TSA officers are trained to treat all passengers with dignity and respect, and receive periodic training regarding cultural and religious sensitivities. When additional screening is needed that requires the removal of religious apparel, our officers offer private screening and request the passenger remove the item."

Ahluwalia's credits as an actor include three Wes Anderson films, including the Oscar-nominated "The Grand Budapest Hotel," and Spike Lee's "Inside Man."

As a model, he became the first Sikh man to appear in a Gap ad and has been on Vanity Fair and GQ's best-dressed lists. He is also the founder of design company The House of Waris.

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