NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh told to "cut off" turban during campaign stop (VIDEO)

Oct 2 2019, 9:52 pm

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was approached by a man who told him to “cut off” his turban in Montreal today.

The incident occurred while Singh was campaigning at Montreal’s Atwater Market on Wednesday morning.

He stopped to briefly meet with a man walking in the market. They shook hands and the man proceeded to lean in and tell Singh that he should “cut off” his turban. The exchange was caught on camera by CBC News.

“You know what? You should cut your turban off … You’ll look like a Canadian,” the man told Singh.

“Oh, I think Canadians look like all sorts of people,” said Singh. “That’s the beauty of Canada.”

“That’s okay. I don’t agree, sir,” Singh continued.

“In Rome, you do as the Romans do,” the man replied.

“Eh, but this is Canada. You can do whatever you like,” Singh said to the man, before walking away with his wife, Gurkiran Kaur.

Singh wears a turban — also known as a dastar — as part of his Sikh faith. In Sikhism, turbans represent courage, honour, and spirituality. Men and women who are baptized Sikhs are required to wear a turban as a testament to their faith. Turbans cannot be simply  “cut off” or removed as the man suggests because they hold great importance to those who practice the Sikh faith.

Many took to social media to express their dismay with the man’s comment to Singh.

On Twitter, Liberal Party candidate and National Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said “comments like these have no place in today’s society. All Canadians need to come together to strengthen our multiculturalism.”

Others commended Singh for being a “class act” and handling the racist altercation with “grace.”

Tonight, Singh will appear on the French-language debate on Quebec’s TVA network alongside Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, and Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet.

It’s anticipated that Bill 21 — Quebec’s religious symbol ban — will come up as a topic of discussion during the debate.

In June, the Quebec government adopted legislation that bans workers in the public sector from wearing religious symbols (such as kippas, hijabs, and turbans) in the workplace.

Today, Singh said he thinks  “it’s important to challenge” Bill 21.

“I’m hoping that by being in Quebec, and saying ‘Hey listen, I got a turban and a beard’ and I’m out here talking about loving the language, fighting against climate crisis, investing in people, and investing in universal medication for all, the people can see, you know what, maybe it’s not a good idea to have divisive laws that discriminate people based on the way they look. Maybe we should focus on how to build a better society together,” he said.

Singh added he would not interfere with a current court challenge of Bill 21.

“I don’t want to politically interfere with that,” he said. “I think it’s very important that [the] court challenge go head. I support the right to have that court challenge, and I don’t want in any way to jeopardize its success or its outcome by interfering.”

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