World Sikh Man Fights For His Right To Wear Turban In Finland


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
Sikh man fights for his right to wear turban in Finland

by Gill Sukhdarshan Singh and Sukhnavdeep Singh Gill|Veolia

LONDON: A Sikh bus driver in Finland, who was ordered by his employers to remove his turban, is fighting for his right to wear the traditional headgear at work.

Gill Sukhdarshan Singh, works at the Veolia bus company in Vantaa near the Finnish capital Helsinki. Gill came to Finland back in 1980s, making him one of the first Sikhs to arrive in the Scandinavian country.

Following a visit to his native Punjab last December, Gill decided to start wearing a turban at work.

That was fine with his employer for two months, before management ordered him to remove it to comply with uniform rules.

"I have a right to my turban, and I am a Sikh also. I believe it is no problem to any other religions, we do not disturb any other religions, we only believe in our own religion," said Gill to Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE.

Gill's son Sukhnavdeep Singh Gill said the he will also like to complete his military service for Finland wearing a turban.

"Everybody has to and I want also to be one of them. It is my right to go and I want to be part of it, and my religion shouldn't be a problem. I don't want to be treated differently, it's my right and it shouldn't be a problem," said Sukhnavdeep.

Other Scandavian countries like Norway and Sweden allow Sikhs in the military to wear turbans.

"I feel this is my right. I pay tax, I work hard, and my family-my wife is also a bus driver, she pays tax-and our children are born in Finland, study in Finland, and we feel this is (a question of) minorities rights. We have our own culture, we have our own religion," said Gill.

Meanwhile, Anu-Tuija Lehto, a lawyer at the trade union confederation of Finland, called SAK, told YLE that she is confident any legal challenge to the turban ban would be successful. PTI