A Sikh youth has approached the US justice department after he was allegedly denied entry into two nightclubs in California because he was wearing a turban.
Dave Bindra, a student at Carlsbad's Gemological Institute of America, went to the nightclubs on July 27 but wasn't let in because they have rules against turbans and other head wear. Bindra claimed that one of the club managers told him it didn't matter that the turban was a religious headgear.
"Beanie, do-rag or turban, you still have a towel on your head and you're not going in," Steve Town, manager of one of the nightclubs, reportedly told the 22-year-old youth.
Town, however, has denied making the "towel" remark and said Bindra and his friends were denied entry because they were being aggressive, the online edition of Union-Tribune reported.
Bindra also claimed that Aaron Williams, general manager of another nightclub Coyote, said it had nothing to do with attacking his religion. "We have a no-hat, no head wear policy when we have a DJ," Williams reportedly said.
When Bindra tried to explain that Sikhs wear a turban as an expression of their faith, Williams said, I'm not judging anyone for their religion. Anybody can come in here and say, 'I'm wearing this because it's my religion'."
"Incidents of discrimination against Sikhs have increased since the September 11, 2001, attacks and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq," said Rajbir Singh Datta, a spokesman for the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF.
Datta said his organisation has contacted the Community Relations Service of the US Justice Department, which mediates in instances of racial and ethnic discrimination.
If the clubs did deny Bindra service because he wore a turban, he would have a strong claim against them, said David Steinberg, a professor of civil rights law at San Diego's Thomas Jefferson School of Law.