Millennium Post

US bows down to Canada

Arrogant and smug officials at US international airports have insulted various foreign personalities, time and again, and got away with a mere apology. Either they do not do their homework or it just does not matter when hurting sensibilities. This time the victim was a Canadian minister who wears a turban. He had passed the usual security checks at Detroit Metro Airport but that was not enough. He was asked to remove his turban. At that point, Canada's Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Navdeep Bains, did something he does not always do. He pulled out his diplomatic passport. Bains described the episode saying, "I went through all the security checks without revealing my identity as a minister. I did it knowingly, as is my habit, to understand better what ordinary people are going through when they sometimes have trouble getting along with people in a position of authority." Following the incident, officials in Ottawa spoke to the US Embassy there, as well as to officials in Washington Officials with the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security who apologised to Canada on behalf of the US government. Bains said he initially went through a metal detector without any problem but was then asked to go through an additional security procedure because of his turban. An agent asked him to go through another screening but the machine was not working properly, Bains said. When it emitted a warning sound, a security officer asked Bains to remove his turban."I asked him why I had to take off my turban since the metal detector had worked well," Bains said. "I will never be asked to take my clothes off. It's the same thing. It's a piece of linen." After passing the second test, Bains was allowed to continue, he said. But when he reached the boarding gate, less than 20 minutes before departure, a security guard approached him and said he had to go back to security because protocol had not been followed. He again asked Bains to remove the turban. "I politely replied that I did not represent a security threat and that I had passed all security checks. He then asked for my name and identification. I reluctantly handed him my diplomatic passport." Bains said he was then allowed to board. As a Sikh, wearing the turban is considered to be one of the most dutiful acts for a person of the faith. Unfortunately, these incidents do occur from time to time, to minorities in particular. But it should never become the norm. "I will continue to promote diversity and for inclusion across the country as our government has done since we took office," was the parting shot of the minister.
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