United Sikhs on Wednesday announced civil rights policy advocacy victory resulting in the modification of court procedures in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, to recognise the Sikh religious practices.
According to United Sikhs Staff Attorney Manmeet Singh, this has resulted from an incident involving Hardeep Singh, a resident of Battle Creek, Michigan, who was accompanying his friend to court hearing in the Kalamazoo County Probate Court on October 16, 2012. Suddenly, while seated in the courtroom, the judge requested Hardeep Singh to remove his "hat".
All attempts to explain that it wasn't a hat but a Sikh turban, an inseparable part of his Sikh identity, were halted by the judge. Another couple's effort to defend Hardeep Singh failed too.
The judge asked Hardeep to either remove his "hat" or leave the courtroom. As any devout Sikh would have done, Hardeep chose to leave the courtroom.
Manmeet Singh said his organisation legal team filed a civil rights complaint with the Department of Justice. After persistent advocacy, positive results have been achieved and the Michigan judge sent a personal letter of apology to Hardeep.
According to Manmeet Singh, Hardeep Singh stated graciously, "I would like to thank United Sikhs from the bottom of my heart. They stood up for my dignity and for the dignity of all Sikhs. My blessings and good wishes will always be with them."