Sikh activist’s turban targeted in racist attack in Austria

LONDON: A Sikh humanitarian campaigner has been allegedly racially targeted in Austria after a woman airport security staffer joked about finding a bomb in his turban, according to a media report.

Sikh activist’s turban targeted in racist attack in Austria

Ravi Singh. — @RaviSinghKA/Twitter

London, August 20 

A Sikh humanitarian campaigner has been allegedly racially targeted in Austria after a woman airport security staffer joked about finding a bomb in his turban, according to a media report.

Ravi Singh was confronted by the staff at the Vienna international airport on his way back to the UK on Friday after helping Yazidi women who were enslaved by the ISIS in Iraq, Metro reported.

The founder of the Khalsa Aid was changing flights at the airport when he let security staff swab his turban. He walked through the metal detector without setting it off, but a member of staff then insisted on giving his headdress an additional scan with a handheld device. When he asked if there was a problem, one of the security workers said: “Yes, we found explosives”, it said.

Despite feeling hurt by the jibe, Singh says education is a much better way forward than punishment.

“If I made that comment I would be thrown in jail. I was so upset,” Singh said.

He said the member of staff was “smirking” when she first made the comment but got “very upset” and went “very red” with embarassment when Singh challenged her. 

She said, “No, I will not apologise.” Singh said: “I want an apology now.”

Singh had been on his second visit to Iraq in three weeks, as part of a new project helping Yazidi women who were captured by ISIS. 

He said he forgives the woman who made the remark and has asked airport management if he can sit down to calmly teach her about his faith.

He added, “I would not feel good if the person was sacked. You can’t answer hate with hate, it will never work. You will only fuel more hate.” Jasveer Singh, of the Sikh Press Association said, “There is a long held conflation by many in the Western world between the physical appearance of a Sikh and that of a terrorist.” 

“It seems anyone with a beard or brown skin or a head-covering can find themselves labelled as ignorantly as Ravi Singh was. The fact many Sikhs have all three is why we so commonly face the brunt of this racist and ignorant mindset.” Responding to Singh on Twitter, a spokesperson for the Vienna Airport said they are investigating the incident. “We apologise for the incident, this does not match our understanding of customer service.” — PTI

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