Denver Broncos fans were told by security to remove their turbans.
A group of friends arrived at the Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego after a seven-hour drive from Fresno to watch the football match between Denver Broncos and the Chargers on December 6. Being supporters of Denver Broncos, they were dressed in fan attire, complete with hats jerseys and other clothing while three Sikhs in the group wore color coordinated turbans to show their support. However, a security guard at the stadium did not allow the Sikh men inside unless they take their turban off.
Varinder Malhi, one of the members of the group claims that the security officials at Qualcomm Stadium harassed them because they were wearing turbans. Although the group was finally allowed into the stadium, Malhi alleged that the security officials warned that they will not be allowed into the stadium again if they wear their turbans. He said that he felt embarrassed by the incident as they were “Americans at the end of the day” and that they were “not supposed to be afraid of fellow Americans.”
The harassment did not end with the security guard. Some time during Sunday afternoon, a fan called up the San Diego police to tell them about Malhi and his group of friends. According to reports from the police, the caller alleged that he saw three men who were wearing turbans keeping something in the trunk of their vehicle and leaving the parking lot soon after.
San Diego Police responded by sending a unit with a bomb-sniffing dog to check the vehicle. A tailgater took a photograph of the dog sniffing the vehicle and sent it to a local TV station. Malhi said that his friends had merely kept a bag into the trunk of the vehicle once they realized that they could not bring it into the stadium.
— Haverly Elizabeth (@IAMHED) December 13, 2015
A senior religion fellow of the Sikh Coalition, Simran Jeet Singh said that although they understand safety and security is a priority for any nation, it should not come at the cost of personal freedoms. According to the coalition, the members of the Sikh faith have become unintended targets of harassment and hate crimes from individuals and groups who mistake them for Muslims after 9/11.
The Sikh religion is practiced in the Punjab region of India and is related to Hinduism. The religion has absolutely no relation to Islam and is widely regarded as a pacifist religion.