Sikh Men Wearing Turbans Hassled, Car Searched at NFL Game
Several Sikh football fans said they initially were not allowed into Qualcomm Stadium to watch a Chargers game because several of them were wearing turbans, the Associated Press reports.
Verinder Malhi and his friends drove from Fresno to San Diego on Sunday. As members of the Sikh faith, some were wearing traditional head garb.
When they arrived, Malhi told KGTV a security guard denied them entry.
“Three of my buddies, they had turbans on, and it was like, you guys got to take the turbans off,” Mahli said.
When pressed, Mahli said the guard finally let them inside but told the men not to wear their turbans the next time they visited the stadium.
The men, who'd driven seven hours to watch the Denver Broncos, got to see the game but their grief didn't end at the door.
According to KGTV, a concerned spectator called police and told them three men in turbans were "fiddling with items in their trunk."
A bomb-sniffing dog reportedly was brought to the scene and sniffed the car, but found nothing suspicious.
Malhi believes he and his friends were the focus of suspicion because people think they are Muslims in this time of heightened fears over Islamic terrorist attacks.
Sikhism, however, is completely distinct from Islam. Adherents--mostly men but also some women--traditionally cover their heads with turbans.
"Everybody kind of confusing us with the turbans, because what you see on TV is mostly the terrorists they wear turbans. But our turbans is different, our faith is different our beliefs are different," Malhi said. " We are Americans at the end of the day. And we are not supposed to be afraid of fellow Americans.”