A Sikh man was kicked out of an overnight camping line to watch a Wimbledon tennis match by a security guard after some people alleged his turban was making them “uncomfortable.”
A furious Govindpal Kooner, 20, took to Facebook last week to rant about the injustice done to him simply based on his beard, calling it an act of racism.
“Kicked out of the overnight camping line for centre court Wimbledon line ‘because you make some people around you uncomfortable, so we’re gonna have to report you and ask you to leave immediately, sir,’” Kooner recounted in his post.
The avid tennis fan explained how much he was anticipating the upcoming championship at the time.
“All I wanted was to peacefully chill and patiently await an opportunity to re-enter the hallowed grounds and see the decorated surface while Roger and Milos scamper and glide across it.”
Several people who commented on Kooner’s post told him to report the incident as discrimination.
The sportsman, who hopes to play professional tennis himself one day, was eventually allowed to attend the event, but only after going to the back of the line and waiting for hours to get in. Kooner made sure to make an official complaint about his treatment.
“I felt awful. I felt like I should've fought and negotiated but I backed down and silently left. I don't feel like I'm ever going back now. It's still one of my favorite tournaments but can no longer definitively say it's a lifelong dream to play on centre court,” he said in an interview by Metro.
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Kooner also said the people in his near vicinity were not threatened by his appearance and he made friends with several of them while he was waiting in line. Matters only got bad when “these blonde haired, blue-eyed ex-military security guards” made their way up to him and told him to leave.
A Wimbledon spokesperson issued a statement after the incident.
"We can confirm that a gentleman was asked to leave the queue at 4:42 a.m. this morning (Friday) after a number of complaints from his fellow queues about his behavior.
"He has previously been warned about his conduct in The Queue on up to six separate occasions during this year’s Championships.
"We do acknowledge, however, that in this instance the event safety staff could have provided a better explanation to him. Happily, the same person has been in the Grounds today (Friday) watching the tennis.”
However, Koooner insists he was not being disruptive and did not get any warnings about his behavior prior to the incident.
Unpleasant incidents of racism have only increased in the United Kingdom post-Brexit. A couple of weeks ago, an Americans vet was told to “get back to Africa” while he was riding on a tram. A halal meat shop owner’s store was set on fire by a xenophobic man wielding a Molotov cocktail.
Kooner also blames the unfair conduct toward him on U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union.
“Post-Brexit racism and the overt rise of neo-fascism; a titanic and heartbreakingly huge misunderstanding; people just being ignorant and plain (but inexcusably and unjustifiably) stupid?” He wrote in his Facebook post.
Banner/Thumbnail Credit: REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth