Posted by: Singh Is King | Saturday, August 18, 2007

Irish Sikh Council demands inclusion of Sikh turban in Gardai Uniform.

Irish Sikh Council strongly rejects the idea of Sikh recruits to An Garda Siochana being asked to wear cap instead of turban as part of their uniform. Irish Sikh Council is also disappointed with recent statement by Minister for Integration Mr Conor Lenhian T.D. where he also agreed with the views of Gardai on this matter. It is disappointing that a member of Sikh community who volunteered to join as Community Garda to give his valuable time to the service of force was recently refused permission to wear turban as part of his uniform.

As per Harpreet Singh, President of Irish Sikh Council, “Although we strongly believe and accept that as an immigrant community we should respect and adopt cultural values of Irish community. But we would like to stress that integration is a two way process. Integration can never be brought about by asking the migrant communities to give up their basic beliefs.”

It is worth emphasizing that police and defence forces worldwide have accommodated the right of Sikhs to wear Turban as part of their uniform. Sikhs in USA, UK, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Pakistan, and India police and defence forces are permitted to wear turban as part of their uniform.

British Parliament in 1976 recognising the right of Sikhs to wear turban, amended Motor Cycle Crash Helmets (Religious Exemption) Act exempting “any follower of the Sikh religion while he is wearing a turban” from having to wear a crash helmet. Similarly, the highest court of the country in the United Kingdom, the House of Lords, has ruled that Sikh drivers and conductors of public vehicles are not to be compelled to wear caps. Similarly in Canada in 1986 Sikhs in Metro Toronto Police were permitted to wear turbans while on duty, and since 1990 turbaned Sikhs may join The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Sikh soldiers in UN peace keeping missions have always been permitted to wear Turban. Over 138,000 turban wearing Sikh soldiers fought and lost their lives fighting in World War 1 and 2.
It is surprising to see this latest stand by Gardai, on issue of turban, as in past meetings between Irish Sikh Council and Gardai Intercultural Office it was always emphasised that Gardai will support members of Sikh community joining the force and will be allowed to wear articles of faith. After previous Justice Minster Mr Michael McDowell announced inclusion of ethnic minorities in An Garda Shiochana a member of Gardai also wore turban to examplify the force’s commitment to accomodation of ethnic minorities in force, this was covered by the print media.

Asking Sikh community members to get rid of turban is like asking Sikh to remove his head. It will be misjudgment on part of Irish authorities to ask Sikhs to part with their turbans. Sikhs have faced number of racist incidents and attacks in Ireland post 9/11 due to their appearance of which Turban is an important part. What message will Gardai send out to the Sikh community by asking them to remove the same turban?

Emphasizing on the importance of Turban for Sikhs, Harpreet Singh said that Turban is not mere cultural paraphernalia but an article of Faith for every Sikh. When a Sikh man or woman dons a turban, the turban ceases to be just a piece of cloth and becomes one and the same with the Sikh’s head. The turbans as well as the other articles of faith worn by Sikhs have an immense spiritual as well as temporal significance. The symbolisms of wearing a turban are many from it being regarded as a symbol of sovereignty, dedication, self-respect, courage and piety.

“Better integration is achieved by better understanding and mutual respect of each others’ belief in a multicultural society. Asking every incomer to just bear the weight of giving up their basic beliefs to integrate will instead create more distances among communities.”

For more information please contact:

Harpreet Singh
President, Irish Sikh Council
Phone: +353 (87) 260 5410
Email: hsingh@irishsikhcouncil.com

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Responses

  1. As a Roman Catholic member of An Garda Siochana I accept that no religious items may be displayed while in uniform. I accept it and so must ALL members of An Garda Siochana. Intergration and equality meaning treating everyone equally. An allowance too one person reagrdless of negative or positive is discrimination against those that are not granted the same allowance.


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