Vikings probe fan's claim he was victim of hate speech at Sunday's game


The Minnesota Vikings launched an investigation after a man said he was verbally abused by a fan at Sunday's game against the Seahawks.

In a statement released Wednesday, the team said they first learned about the incident through a widely circulated op-ed published in the Star Tribune that morning.

In the piece, Deepinder Mayell, the director of the Advocates for Human Rights' refugee and immigrant program, says his experience at the game was ruined after a man approached him in the stands and demanded to know if he was a refugee, with the man saying he "needed to make sure" he wasn't.

Mayell, who was born in New York and is Sikh American, told FOX 9 he believes the incident happened because the man was afraid of extremist Muslims who are linked to terrorism.

Mayell says he reported the incident to security staff at TCF Bank Stadium. Staff did speak with the man, who eventually apologized to Mayell, but was allowed to stay at the game.

In the statement, the Vikings called Mayell's story "disturbing" and not within the team's community values, noting "we do not condone discrimination at any level."

The team says it has reached out to Mayell, with Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren scheduled to discuss what happened with him directly. It will also speak with internal security staff about the incident, noting they "were unaware of the situation" until the op-ed was published and are now investigating.

Mayell is among many in the United States who have felt anti-Muslim backlash in recent weeks following the Islamic State terrorist attacks in Paris and the deadly attack in California that was carried out by a Muslim couple, the Washington Post reports.

The paper notes people often don't draw a distinction between radical Islamist militants and those who follow the religion of Islam and have no ties to extremism.

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