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Blatant disregard for religious sensitivities

Gulf News

The European Tour returned to mainland Europe this week for the inaugural Sicilian Open, and even as I was so excited looking forward to playing after a three-week break, it wasn't the best of starts because of events outside the golf course.

If you have been following news from India, perhaps you are aware of the unfortunate, and totally uncalled for, incident that took place involving my swing coach Amritinder Singh at the Milan airport.

We were checking into the domestic flight when the security officials stopped Amritinder and asked him to take off his turban. Now Amritinder is a practising Sikh, and the turban has immense religious significance for us. No self-respecting Sikh will ever go out in public with exposed hair. The world over, airport security officials do pat the turban with their hand-held scanners, but they never try to take it off — especially in public.

We were not going against any established airport security norms. Amritinder was fully willing to go through the X-rays. It was simply a case of harassment. Even our prime minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, is a Sikh who wears a turban. More than anything else, I am appalled at their lack of knowledge, awareness and the sense to employ some common sense in such matters.

We discussed it on the plane, and decided to lodge a strong complaint. If this can happen to us, I can imagine the plight of the common man. Somebody needed to stand up and the issue needed to be flagged. We decided to do that. Hopefully, something good will come out of it.


Jeev Milkha Singh is a three-time champion on the European Tour.