Racial attacks force Sikhs to cut their hair
Intolerant local surroundings and humiliation due to turban search have forced increasing number of Sikhs to cut their hair.india Updated: Nov 25, 2006 19:51 IST
Increasing numbers of racially motivated attacks have forced some of the Sikh teenagers in Britain to shed their long hair and turbans but many from the community also do so to fit in with their local surroundings.
While some groups in Britain believe that young, westernised Sikhs have long been reluctant to adhere to traditional disciplines, Sikh students say that increasing numbers of racially-motivated attacks have had a significant impact on their attitudes.
Dalwinder Singh, an executive board member of the student group said, "We do get a lot of young kids trimming their hair because they see how they are treated.
"For example, they find that they can't take part in certain things at school and they just don't want to stand out. And the attacks that have been in the news have definitely had an effect. Teenagers just want to fit in with what society is doing," he told.
A spokesman for the Sikh Educational and Cultural Association agreed that young Sikhs cut their hair but argued that recent assaults did not have had any special impact.
"Sikh youngsters are like any other youngsters in what they can drift away from their religion. This has always been the case. They feel that it is a burden for them to keep the long hair because it is such a discipline," he said.
The changing scenario also reflected the growing intolerance in the West towards overtly religious clothing - especially veils and turbans - five years after the attacks on America of September 11, 2001.
Many young Sikh men who have cut their hair say that they did so to escape the humiliation of turban searches at Western airports or to avoid being mistaken for Muslims.