A local Sikh priest asked to hand over his religious dagger by a pilot after he boarded a plane in New Zealand, said the issue only served to highlight the racism his community faced in the post-September 11 world.
Jarnail Singh and a group of Sikh priests visiting from India got through security wearing their kirpans (daggers) under their shirts at Auckland's domestic terminal and boarded their flight to Napier last Sunday afternoon.
Mr Singh said a woman sitting behind him spotted his kirpan sticking out and began shaking.
"She said I had a knife and got panicked," Mr Singh said. "I asked her 'please calm down, we are not what you think'."
The woman's husband notified cabin crew and the pilot asked the men to hand over their kirpans until they landed in Napier.
The daggers were returned when all the other passengers got off the plane in Napier.
"Air New Zealand was very fair. It's just disappointing when one lady reacts like that and makes an issue out of it," Mr Singh said....
Mr Singh said he was often taunted by people calling him Bin Laden because of his long beard which under Sikh tradition he is not permitted to cut. [Link]
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