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Pope John Paul Supported Sikhs On Various Issues

Jun 1, 2004

Amritsar, April 3
The meeting of Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, and Pope John Paul II in January 2002 would be remembered as a "historic event" when the former and his team was allowed to carry a three-foot long kirpan during his visit to Assisi and Vatican to mark the Prayer for World Peace.

It was after initial hiccups that security agencies had allowed them to carry the kirpan. Initially, senior officials of the security agencies had told the Jathedar that nobody could carry any "weapon". The security agencies were extra cautious about the security as the World Peace Prayer was held a few months after the 9/11 attack on the twin towers of the USA. However, the religious personalities who accompanied the Jathedar told them that kirpan was part of the ceremonial dress of the
Jathedar and he could not part with it.

Mr Prithipal Singh Sandhu, who accompanied the Jathedar as his secretary, told TNS that after detailed discussions, officials of Vatican and Assisi agreed to permit Jathedar Vedanti, Baba Mohinder Singh of
'Nishkam Sewak Jatha', UK, Baba Daljit Singh Chicago and Mr Harbans Singh, president of the Sikh Religious Society, Italy, to carry the full-length kirpan.

Meanwhile, Sikhs around the world remember the intrepid Pope for his moral support to the community on human rights. The Pope had rallied
behind them on various occasions. According to the United Sikhs Mission, only last year Pope John Paul II threw his weight behind Sikhs to oppose the French Government's ban on religious signs, including the Sikh turban, at schools, saying ''the government cannot be an arbiter in any religious matter.'' Mr Sameep Singh, inter-faith director of United Sikhs, a global human development organization, said the Pope had always supported the cause of the community and worked for the betterment of Sikhs globally.

The Pope's message had come after the Sikh community sought his intervention to oppose the French ban on the Sikh turban, an expression of the Sikh identity and faith. Pope John Paul II, in his message, had said, "In recent times, we have witnessed in some European countries an attitude that could endanger the effective respect for religious freedom. Everyone may agree to respect the religious sentiment of individuals but the same cannot be said of the religious factor, that is the social dimension of religions."