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UK Sikhs Win Support Over Airport Turban Searches


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
KENT NEWS: Sikh men upset at having their turbans manhandled by airport security staff have won the backing of Tory MP Gareth Johnson.

Regulations introduced by the European Union in April mean followers of the Asian religion can now be asked to unravel their headwear or have it ‘patted down’ if the metal detector bleeps when they walk through.

Mr Johnson’s Dartford constituency has a thriving Sikh community with a temple near the centre of town, and the new MP is taking up the fight on their behalf.

"The people I’ve spoken to have said that to search someone’s turban is like carrying out a strip search on a non-Sikh," he said.

"It’s humiliating for people and should be stopped where possible. I don’t want to tie the security people’s hands so they can’t fight terror but we need a common sense approach to protect people’s right to follow their religion.

"I don’t think we should have this situation of turbans being searched when we have the technology to scan them instead."

Mr Johnson raised the issue with Transport Secretary Philip Hammond during a debate in the House of Commons.

He was told that following a "furious reaction" from the Sikh community, the Government had instructed all UK airports to ignore the EU regulations and instead revert to using handheld wands to scan turbans.

Only if the scanner bleeps again will security staff be permitted to request the headwear be unravelled.

Mr Hammond said: "There is a large and well-integrated Sikh community in the UK, and special arrangements to take account of their headwear have existed at least since the introduction of compulsory motorcycle helmets (in 1973).

"On June 25 I instructed UK airports that they should temporarily revert to the previous arrangements, despite the EU rules.

"The Sikh community has recognised this positive step and we are now working with them and with the EU to identify a suitable way forward.

"The ultimate solution probably lies in the introduction of scanners as a primary means of security screening at our airports, but at the moment this cannot be done under EU rules.

"Part of my discussion with the EU is seeking to persuade it that we can resolve the particular problems of religious headwear by addressing the wider issue of adopting scanners as a primary screening method."

Dabinderjit Singh of the Sikh Federation said it was disrespectful for anyone else to touch somebody’s turban.

He added: "It is almost a humiliation.

"It is very difficult to describe when someone touches your turban. Sikhs regard it as a crown."



May 8, 2010
I dont understand why they would tell Sikhs to take of their daastars to get the clothe examined when the can use the scanner..... Comment deleted that was on the thin ice of incivility.. yet Sikhs have to take off their turbans?

Put it this way, if you do not have to take your clothes off to get scanned then you should not have to take off you daastar! :)
edited by Narayanjot Kaur


Cleverness is not wisdom
May 2, 2010
Sadly there remains a general ignorance about the significance of the Turban.

I also remember earlier this year there was some controversy in the UK about a pilot programme in 2 major UK airports using full body scanners that presented a full life-size naked view of the passenger in all his/her glory!

Such a scan will clearly reveal what is under the Turban



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