DARWIN, July 17: A court in Australia has sentenced a husband and wife couple to nine months in jail for a racially motivated attack on a Sikh man.
Angelina Kim Sollitt, 44, and her husband Michael John Arbouin, 40, were given the jail sentence for what has been described as a malicious and unprovoked attack on Jagroop Singh, a taxi driver in Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory in October last year.
The incident happened after Singh picked up Sollitt, Arbouin and three other people from the Dinah Beach Yacht Club in Darwin.
As Singh drove the group, Sollitt told him to remove his turban, a symbol of the Sikh faith, saying that it was Australia and not his country.
“If you want to live in Australia, take this sh** off,” Sollitt was quoted as telling Singh.
Singh kept on driving but when the abuse did not stop he eventually pulled over in a bid to remove the group from the cab.
It was then that Sollitt got out from the cab and ripped off Singh’s turban leaving him dishevelled.
When Singh called police for help, Arbouin threw him to the ground and punched him in the face.
Police eventually arrived at the scene and brought the situation under control.
According to the NT Times, Singh was so embarrassed by what happened at the time that he cut off his young son’s hair and forbade him from wearing a turban.
“The turban is the crowning glory of the Sikhs,” judge Stephen Southwood was quoted as saying during the sentencing.
“For Sikhs, the head and the turban are sacred – they must not be touched or insulted in any way,” he said.
Southwood also said that the concept of Sikhism included “universal acceptance of all humanity, belief in one God and the equality of all persons irrespective of their caste, colour, gender, nationality and religion”.
Singh had earlier told the newspaper that the turban was symbol of faith for him.
“I only care that these people insulted my religion,” he had said.