US: Sikh Turban leads to harassment

Woman arrested for trying to rip Sikh’s turban at US restaurant
1 Feb 2008, 1534 hrs IST , PTI
 WASHINGTON: A New Jersey woman has been arrested on charges of bias intimidation and harassment after she tried to rip off a Sikh man’s turban at a restaurant.

“I could feel a hand pulling this off,” said 38-year-old Hansdip Singh Bindra, who was at the popular bar with a colleague just after midnight.

“Removing my turban in public is akin to giving me a strip search,” he said.

Police said Carrie Covello, 37, grabbed the turban while standing behind Bindra at the bar. She then apparently asked him, “Why are you wearing that on your head?”

“You’re out for an evening with colleagues and this is the last thing you’d expect” Bindra said, adding he had asked Covello if there was a problem.

“She said ‘Take it off, I don’t like it,'” Bindra was quoted as saying by media in US. Bindra alerted the bouncer and called the police, who arrested Covello on Wednesday.

Covello admitted to “touching” the turban, but told the police she was only joking and didn’t mean anything by it, police said.

Covello was charged with bias intimidation and harassment and the prosecutor’s office will ultimately determine if her actions at the bar were based on some kind of religious or ethnic bias.

Bindra, who was earlier involved in a 2003 religious bias lawsuit against Delta Airlines, said he wanted Covello to be prosecuted.

“If these people don’t face the consequences, this will happen over and over again,” he said.

Dave Carney, the owner of the restaurant, apologised for the incident and condemned Covello’s actions.

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