Tag Archives: Turban

Can A Sikh Wear His Turban In Army?

Two Army officers have been told they must shave their beards and take off their turbans because it is against Army policy for Sikhs to carry out their faith while on active duty. According to Captain Kamaljeet Kalsi, “I don’t think it’s fair for anybody to ask me to choose between my religion and my country. Shaving my beard and taking off my turban–these are part of my body. It’s part of my being.” Captain Kalsi is a doctor and was told upon joining that he could retain those features of the Sikh religion. Now, facing active duty he was told that not shaving or wearing a turban will somehow interfere with carrying out his medical duties.

Army spokesperson, Lt. Col. Nathan Banks said: “There are times when the Army cannot accommodate for religious reasons, such as when those religious observations would interfere with the wear of proper military headgear or protective clothing equipment.”

Hogwash. Sikhs have served in the British armed forces for over a hundred years without having to shave or take off their turbans. It is ridiculous regulations such as these that lose valuable members of the armed forces.

India Critical Of French Ban On Turbans

An interesting case was brought before the Supreme Court of India by the Singh Legal Foundation which asked it to accept jurisdiction over the decision by France to ban Sikhs from wearing the turben. The Court was sympathetic to the issue raised by the Sikh group, but noted: “We can only protect the fundamental rights of the citizens within the boundary of India. Fundamental rights cannot be protected in foreign lands.” The Singh Foundation argued the French ban violated the rights of Sikhs and it was the duty of the government of India to intervene. However, the Supreme Court noted that Sikhs could seek the assistance of the International Court of Justice or the European Court.

We increasingly live in times when a decision in one country impacts the lives of those living in other nations. The Supreme Court of India is correct on one point, international courts must assume responsibility for violation of human rights within an individual nation.

To Turban Or Not To Turban, That Is The Question

Many Sikh boys wear a moderate version of the turban inside their helmet when playing hockey and Sikh men wear a similar sports-oriented vesion of the turban as the occasion requires. But, Baijinder Badesha, a devout man and a motorcycle enthusiast, didn’t want any interference in his right to wear a turban without any other impediment on his head. Badesha did not appear surprised when Ontario Court Justice James Blacklock, dismissed his constitutional challenge of a Highway Traffic Act provision that mandates helmets for motorcyclists. The judge told him, “unfortunately, no accomodation appears possible.”

Mel Sokolsy, lawyer for the defendant, aruged the law should be rewritten to accomodate the religious faith of the Sikh man. Justice Blacklock, did agree his decision impacted the religious freedom of Mr. Badesha, but felt societal safety requirements took precedent over a religious dress belief. Mr. Badesha has decided to park his motorcycle in the shed, maybe he will sit on it in moments of quiet peace– with his turban on his head.

Turkish Muslim Women Abandoning Chador For Turban

A new study of Turkish women done by Tarhan Erdem for Millyet shows only a minor rise during the past four years in the number of women who have decided to adopt traditional Muslim head covering. After the religiously conservative Justice an Development Party assumed power, many secular critics warned it would lead to pressure being exerted on secular Muslim women causing them to adopt some form of head covering. The latest figures indicate only a 5% rise in recent years. However, there has ben a 16% rise in the number of Muslim women who are discarding the chador in favor of wearing a turban. According to M.S. Birand, writing in The Turkish Daily News, it simply means “the young prefer the turban to the chador” which indicates it is an example of “fashionable modernization” and has as much significance as women switching from long skirts to mini-skirts. As he notes, “I see no reason to lament over the fact.”

These figures refute hysterical claims by critics of the Justice And Development Party who accused their leaders of attempting to impose strict sharia law upon the Turkish population. At worse, it has led to wearing a turban.