A British Sikh's response to an alleged racist attack in Poland has gone viral, with nearly 3,000 people sharing his Facebook post. Navjot Sawhney claimed he was punched by a nightclub bouncer in Krakow on 28 November after being denied entry because of his appearance.
Aerospace engineer Sawhney, 25, described how his friends were allowed into the nightclub, while he was refused entry. When Sawhney questioned the bouncer's decision not to let him in, he was allegedly told that it was because he was wearing a turban and that meant that he was a "terrorist".
"I was refused entrance to Shakers Krakow because my face and dress didn't correspond to a man's view of what humanity should look like," Sawhney wrote on his Facebook page. "I listened while the bouncer verbally abused me, spat at me, and called me a terrorist."
Despite this, Sawhney said there are "racists and bigots in every country, every religion and every ethnicity", and it would be "racist in itself to tar an entire population with the same negative brush, and rather misses the point of my post... I called for solidarity, not division."
Sawhney said that the bouncer punched him, causing his turban to be knocked off his head. Two police officers arrived at the scene but allegedly refused to arrest the bouncer because Sawhney was not bleeding.
"The police officers did tell me that white and brown people in Poland are different," Sawhney told IBTimes UK. "They also told me that I should have thought about the attacks committed in Paris before I chose to come to Poland. People are angry, they said – aggression towards you is to be expected."
Sawhney said that their comments were "ridiculous" as he was not a Muslim. However, he also pointed out that the sentiment was "offensive" regardless of what his religious faith is. He said that his "heart goes out to Muslims all over the world who are being persecuted because of the actions of terrorists".
The Polish Embassy in the UK was among those to respond to Sawhney's Facebook post, apologising for the "racist" incident. Thousands of others have commented as well, expressing solidarity with him and many sharing their own experiences of racism in Poland. However, Sawhney insisted that he does not intend to criticise Poland.
A spokesperson for Shakers nightclub told IBTimes UK that the bouncers in question have been suspended from their duty pending investigation by the police. The manager of the nightclub has also reportedly reached out to Sawhney to apologise for the incident. However, management maintains that Sawhney was not rejected from the nightclub because of his appearance but because the club was allegedly at full capacity.
"As stated by our employees and eyewitnesses, Mr Nav reacted emotionally to the entry refusal," a spokesperson for Shakers said. "Mr Nav was not being offended, spat at or beaten. The club managers would like to abstain from judgment which version of events was the true one or if the allegations of Mr Nav were reasoned. We simply want to apologise for him feeling offending during his visit in our club."
The spokesperson said that if police confirmed Sawhney's allegations, the bouncers in question would face "far-reaching consequences", including dismissal.
Sawhney said: "In all honesty, I am more upset with the police than the nightclub. The nightclub's reputation has been tarnished by the racism of one individual – and they are taking appropriate action. The police are expected to uphold justice, and if instead they perpetuate racism, then nothing will ever get better."
The Police Headquarters in Krakow has been approached for comment.