Blogger Sheena Phua last night apologized to netizens, including the Sikh community, over an Instagram video she posted showing two men wearing white turbans who blocked her view of the concert stage at the Singapore Grand Prix. The caption read: “Dang! 2 huge obstructions decided to pop out of nowhere.”
While she at no point referenced the men’s religion, the fact that part of the obstruction in question involved religiously required turbans meant people were quick to go on the attack as a screenshot of the now-deleted IG story started popping on other pages, including the popular Wake Up, Singapore.
Amid an online backlash that saw her accused of everything from racist to unfeeling, Phua took to IG to respond, saying the story in question had been “misinterpreted.”
“I apologize for the distress it has caused. The obstruction being referenced in my video was a physical obstruction as the 2 Sikh men were taller than me and blocked my view of the show in front. This would have been the same were they (of) any other race or gender,” she said in the new post.
She added that the video had been “taken out of context” and that she had not meant it as “racist or derogatory.”
Here’s her full apology:
This struck many on Instagram and Twitter as um, tall tale, with some calling out her apology as “fake.”
hm it’s kinda some form of privilege when you have the audacity to take a picture of someone, call them an obstruction when u r at a concert & post it up for ur 70k followers on IG instead of moving to a better spot, like life really isn’t that hard imo when the solution is: move https://t.co/aP5dFuZ8lL
— Preeti Nair (@plspreeti) September 22, 2019
Dear Sheena Phua, these 2 “obstructions” you’re talking about are called turbans and are a huge part of the Sikh identity. I urge you to apologise and to better understand what the turban means to us. pic.twitter.com/x6JYuXq19L
— Darvesh Singh (@MyNameIsDVesh) September 22, 2019
Others, meanwhile, including some Sikhs, saw no malicious intent to Phua’s post and believed she was simply highlighting the men’s height, not their race or religion.