A Sikh protester was evicted from one of Republican frontrunner Donald Trump’s election rallies in Iowa on Sunday after he held up a placard that said “STOP HATE”.
The man, sporting a red turban, held up the placard when Trump was speaking of 9/11, according to media reports. “We have radical Islamic terror going on all over the place, all over the world, and we have a president that won’t say it,” he said.
“When planes fly into the World Trade Center, and into the Pentagon, and wherever the third plane was going. When people are shooting their friends in California, when they’re shooting their friends...”
As the Sikh man raised his banner, Trump waved his hand and said, “Bye. Bye. Goodbye.”
Shortly after the San Bernardino shooting, Trump called for temporarily banning non-American Muslims from entering the country, for which he was criticized even by his party.
But what the Republican frontrunner said after the protestor was evicted would probably worry the community more: “He wasn’t wearing one of those hats, was he? Was he wearing one of those?”
Trump didn’t expand on it, but the given the context, the expression “one of those hats” probably meant the headgear used by West Asian men.
Some Americans can’t tell this headgear from the turbans that Sikhs wear and that has cost at least one Sikh man his life — Balbir Singh Sodhi, a gas station owner who was killed within days of the 9/11 attacks after being mistaken for a West Asian.
A white supremacist gunned down six Sikhs at a gurudwara in Wisconsin in 2012. His reasons for targeting them were never clear, other than that he had spoken of a “racial holy war”.
In recognition of the lack of awareness among Americans about their religion, the Sikh community has tried to reach out. The Sikh Coalition, an advocacy group, runs a section on its website on turbans: “Arab turbans are wrapped differently and have a very different style that (is) almost never seen in the United States. Remember that in America, 99% of the people you see wearing a turban will be Sikh. If you see someone wearing a turban and you are not sure if they are Sikh or not, ask them!”