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Sikhs Will Not Allow Their Holy Turbans To Be Touched


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
, Jun 29, 2010 8:31:32
Sikh will not allow their Holy Turbans to be touched

British Sikh Police Association (BSPA) is leading the ploy of Sikhs around the world, as fears grow that Sikh may become targets of new security directives that are planned to be implemented in airports.

The Chairman of BSPA, Kashmira Singh Mann turbaned Sikh policer officer, has written to the Home Secretary voicing concerns regarding the implementation of Commission Regulation (EU) No 185/2010.

As this will impinge on the Sikh community, especially those wearing the Holy Turban. A Sikh has much respect for their Turbans and have a code of conduct that treats Turbans as an article of faith, therefore allowing someone to touch their Turban would cause huge distress.

The Regulation, which came into effect on 29 April 2010, requires hand searches and discourages the use of hand-held metal detectors if walk-through metal detectors suggest a passenger may be carrying a prohibited article.

In a letter to the Home Secretary, Kashmira Singh Mann says “This presents a major difficulty for turban wearing Sikhs as the walk-through metal detectors will almost always go off because Sikhs will be wearing a Kara (iron bangle) and if they are practising Sikhs they will be wearing a small Kirpaan with a blade of up to 6cm, which now appear to be specifically allowed under the new Regulation (see later).

“The Regulation is being interpreted as requiring hand searches of the Sikh turban, which as you will appreciate would be highly offensive and most insensitive towards Sikhs. It will become an issue of considerable concern within the Sikh community and with MPs from 1 July 2010 when the new policy is to be implemented at Heathrow Airport. We understand other airports may already have started to partially implement the Regulation and there have already been complaints.

“The Regulation ( allows for the appropriate authority to create categories of passengers that, for objective reasons, shall be subject to special screening procedures or may be exempted from screening. We suggest you write to and meet with Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, the Secretary of State for Transport, as a matter of urgency and insist on Sikh turbans being exempt from hand searches and only subject to walk-through metal detectors (that have the inherent limitations described as regards Sikhs) and/or hand-held metal detectors. An alternative is to ensure there are sufficient full body scanners for turban wearing Sikhs at all UK airports that will be able to detect if a passenger may be carrying a prohibited article.

“Sikh from across the UK plan to hold a mass lobby of Parliament on 30 June between 1.30-4.30pm and hope that action can be taken by then to delay the implementation at all UK airports until an acceptable solution (i.e. exemption covering the Sikh turban) is found for turban wearing Sikhs.

“Sikhs are also looking for the Department of Transport to issue a letter covering the right of practising Sikh passengers to now be able to wear a small Kirpaan with a blade of up to 6cm as implied by the new Regulation. As the latter applies across Europe and the authorities other than in the UK may be oblivious to the right of practising Sikh passengers to be able to wear a small Kirpaan we are looking for the Department to obtain suitable letters in relevant languages from its counterparts across the EU so British Sikhs when flying back from mainland Europe are allowed to exercise the same right as in the UK under this Regulation.

“As members of the Police service we recognise the need for security but we also need to recognise the hurt, distress and pain the Sikh community will suffer due to this regulation. No other racial group or faith will have to undergo what the Sikh community will have to go through.

“We urge you to work closely with the Sikh representatives to come to a mutually agreed solution which will avoid this discriminatory practice.

Pat McFadden MP has also written to the Department of Transport echoing concerns:

“As I am sure you are aware, the turban is an article of faith for Sikhs and the prospect of hand searching is causing considerable concern and anxiety among the Sikh community.

“I fully appreciate the need for good security at airports, as indeed do my Sikh constituents. The Sikh community is a peaceful community which plays a very positive role not only in Wolverhampton but throughout the country.

“I believe it is important to have a proper dialogue as a matter of urgency with representatives of the Sikh community about these regulations. Part of the issue seems to be the greater use of hand searching when metal detectors go off but this will happen routinely when Sikhs pass through security because many wear a Kara (metal bangle) or carry a Kirpan (a small ceremonial sword).

“My constituents are not suggesting a downgrading of security at airports but have suggested greater use of full body scanners as an alternative to the practise of searching turbans by hand.


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