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The Sikh Coalition Alert
December 9, 2010
  • TSA Detains Sikh; Forces Turban Removal

    December 9, 2010 (Washington, DC) - The Sikh Coalition filed a formal complaint this week with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on behalf of Mr. Daljeet Singh Mann, a business traveler, who was forced to remove his dastaar (Sikh turban) on two separate occasions within a span of only three days.

    Incident One - Surrounded and Detained

    On November 6, 2010, after clearing a metal detector without setting off an alarm at San Francisco International Airport, Mr. Mann was surrounded by four TSA officers and told that they needed to "look under" his dastaar in a private room.  No explanation was provided.

    Although Mr. Mann was prepared to pat down his own dastaar, the TSA officers escorted him to a private room and forced him to remove it.  After inspecting his dastaar, TSA officers subjected Mr. Mann to an aggressive full-body pat down and searched through his luggage.

    Immediately after suffering this humiliation, Mr. Mann reported the incident to a TSA supervisor and was told that "someone dropped the ball" at TSA.

    Incident Two - Detention and Humiliation

  • Incredibly, only two days later, Mr. Mann was subjected to more degrading treatment by TSA officers at Sacramento International Airport.  After clearing a metal detector and having his hands swabbed, Mr. Mann was told that the hand-swab results were positive.  When Mr. Mann requested a second test, due to the possibility that the results were wrong, TSA officers refused and told him that he would have to remove his dastaar in a private room.

    Upon entering the room, Mr. Mann asked that he be allowed to leave the airport, so that he would not have to suffer the same humiliation that he had experienced only two days earlier.  TSA officials told him that he did not have the option to go home without additional screening of his dastaar, and that if he had problems with TSA policy, he should not travel in the future.

    Two deputy sheriffs were posted outside the room, and Mr. Mann was forced to place his dastaar in a bin and undergo another aggressive full-body pat down.  Mr. Mann missed his flight and was forced to book another one.

    While waiting for his flight in the airport waiting area, Mr. Mann was harassed again.  One of the deputies posted outside the room while he was searched approached Mr. Mann and began asking intrusive and harassing questions about where he worked.  Mr. Mann responded to the deputy but ultimately felt so humiliated by the entire experience that he cancelled his business trip and returned home.

    Sikh Coalition Intervenes

    The Sikh Coalition worked with Mr. Mann to file a complaint with the TSA and met with Congressional offices to discuss the matter.

    Only through community reporting and documentation can we make the case that TSA policy discriminates against Sikhs.  We are grateful to Mr. Daljeet Singh Mann for courageously going public with his ordeal.

    As always, the Sikh Coalition urges all Sikhs to fearlessly practice their faith.  You can report air travel discrimination by clicking here


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