Three Sikh Americans were allegedly harassed by security staff and denied entry to watch an NFL game in San Diego, Calif., Dec. 6 because they were wearing turbans. The three Indian American Denver Broncos fans, along with two other friends, were hoping to get into Qualcomm Stadium to watch the Broncos take on the Chargers, a game in which the Broncos won 17-3.
One of the men denied entry was Verinder Malhi, who explained to a guard at the stadium that his religion prohibited him and his friends from removing their headgear, according to an ABC10 news report published Dec. 11.
Malhi, who was not wearing a turban, was with a group of five, three of whom were wearing turbans. The guard, however, told the men that they would only be allowed inside if they were to do as they were told, the ABC10 article added. The guard ultimately relented and allowed the men inside still wearing their turbans.
However, on their way out, the group’s car was subjected to a search by a bomb squad after a call to police claimed the men were putting a bag in the trunk suspiciously. “Everybody is kind of confusing us with the turbans, because what you see on TV is mostly the terrorists, they wear turbans,” said Malhi in the ABC10 article.
The incident comes after Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump called for the banning of all Muslims from the U.S. in the wake of the San Bernardino, Calif., attack that killed 14. “But our turbans (are) different, our faith is different, our beliefs are different,” Malhi added in the article. Malhi said the whole incident is embarrassing, adding, “We are Americans at the end of the day.” The group drove seven hours from Fresno to San Diego, and, despite being let in Dec. 6, the guard said they would not be allowed back in the future if they wore the turbans.