SAN FRANCISCO: An Indo-Canadian Toronto-based Sikh comedian and YouTube and Vine star, Jasmeet Singh — better known online as ‘JusReign’ alleged that he was forced to take off his turban at the San Francisco airport during a security check, weeks after a Sikh-American actor was barred from boarding a flight in Mexico for refusing to take off his turban.
Although airline officials provided a private room for him to remove his turban so that it could be X-rayed, Singh said they would not provide a mirror for him to retie his turban, and suggested that Singh walk through the airport terminal bareheaded to find a public restroom in which to retie his turban.
“Pretty much the vibe that I was getting was that we’ve done our business, we’ve taken care of our security measures,” Singh told NBC News, “and you’re not our problem anymore. We’re not going to accommodate you now that we’ve done what we need to do.”
“Like any Sikh man in my position, it was demoralizing and embarrassing, to be sent out after being forced to remove my turban,” Singh, whose YouTube channel has nearly 700,000 subscribers and more than 99,000,000 views, said. “I’ve done YouTube videos where I have shown my hair and I have shown how to tie a turban, so I’m more comfortable in the public space, but if it was anyone else in my position — another Sikh man or maybe a woman in hijab — to force them to walk out to use a bathroom to tie their turban or hijab again, it’s kind of ridiculous. Just bringing a mirror to the private screening room will allow them to put it on again, which is not that big of a hassle on their end.”
In response to Singh’s experience, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) told NBC News that they contacted the Department of Justice (DOJ) and TSA as soon as they heard about what happened.
“We are disappointed but unfortunately not surprised by the situation faced by JusReign,” SALDEF Executive Director Jasjit Singh said. “TSA policies have been created to prevent this sort of humiliation. We need more trainings to ensure that security officials on the ground are aware of the policies.”
Harmann P. Singh, a policy fellow at SALDEF, added that SALDEF has worked to conduct trainings with TSA agents in 34 cities, and has trained agents who have served in hundreds of locations across the country.
Since Singh began tweeting Sunday night, fans and others have spoken out on Twitter in support.