March 24, 2011

India protests over Milan airport’s turban checks

by Jan Harris

Security staff at Milan airport asked golf coach, Amritinder Singh, to remove his turban for a security check on Tuesday, prompting India to lodge an official protest.

It was the second time in two weeks that Amritinder Singh, who coaches India’s top golfer, Jeev Milkha Singh, had been asked to remove his turban.

The Italian ambassador, Giacomo Sanfelice Di Monteforte, was asked to go to India’s foreign ministry after the incident, where senior foreign ministry official Vivek Katju said: “India condemns the incident. Religious sentiments of Indians need to be respected.”

Asking a Sikh to remove his turban is deeply offensive and it is also considered unnecessary when checks can be carried out with the turban in place, by using body scanning and metal detection equipment.

Radical Sikh group Dal Khalsa has written to the Italian ambassador expressing its concern about several incidences at Milan Airport when Sikhs have been asked to remove their turban.

The letter suggests that airport staff should be made aware that the practice offends Sikh sensitivities.

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