SBS Language | Sikh man asked to remove turban; refused entry into service station

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A Sikh man says he was asked to take off his turban by a service station attendant and wasn’t allowed to enter the store when he refused to do so.

“Ironically, this happened when we celebrated the multicultural day just hours earlier on the Gold Coast,” says Mannu Kala who is the general manager of a pathology company.

Mr Kala says he was wearing a small turban when went to a service station to buy some milk for his daughter on Sunday night around 9 pm, and the attendant refused to let him inside the store.

“As I was entering the store, he [the attendant] said I can’t enter because I am wearing a turban and I’ve got to take my turban off.”

He said he tried to explain to the store attendant that he was a Sikh and can’t remove his turban.

“I asked him ‘call your manager, maybe you’re thinking I am wearing a cap or a balaclava,” Mr Kala said.

Kala

Mannu Kala

Supplied

Sometime later, Mr Kala returned wearing a full turban- traditionally worn by Sikhs as a mandatory article of their faith- and was again refused entry.

“I could see that he was acting spitefully, it wasn’t out of ignorance or an honest mistake,” Mr Kala told SBS Punjabi.

Mr Kala streamed a video of the incident on his social media account which showed the store attendant saying over the microphone: “he [Mr Kala] isn’t complying”, as other customers waited at the store entrance.

“It’s not a beanie, it’s a religious thing,” quipped another customer, referring to the turban.

Mr Kala was allowed inside the story only when the store manager turned up at the scene. The store attendant finally apologised to him saying he had misunderstood him.

“I am extremely sorry. I thought it was a beanie. I was only following store policy. I was only doing my job and I’m extremely sorry for wasting your time,” he told Mr Kala.

BP said it takes such matters seriously and has a safety policy in which all individuals are asked to remove headwear, except those worn for religious purposes, and face coverings before entering the store.

“We apologise for the misunderstanding and we’re sorry [Mr Kala] had a poor experience at our site. It is never our intention to upset or offend our customers,” a BP spokesperson told SBS Punjabi.

Mr Kala said the incident was “extremely shocking” for as it had never happened to him during the last 10 years since he moved to Australia.

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