The Akal Takht, highest temporal seat of Sikhism, and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) have condemned the manner in which US high school student Karanveer Singh Pannu (18) of New Jersey was forced to remove his turban during a security check at the San Francisco airport.
In a statement issued here on Thursday, Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh said incidents such as this were becoming frequent. “The turban, to Sikhs, is not only a religious symbol but also an important article of faith,” he said, adding that American Sikhs were a hardworking community that had contributed a lot to the American progress which even US President Barack Obama had acknowledged.
Giani Gurbachan Singh regretted that Sikhs in the West had also become targets of racial attacks, since they are taken for Muslims by their turbans and beard, and labelled terrorists, after the 9/11 terror strikes especially. Gurdwaras in the West have been attacked and vandalised. In the most recent incident, an explosion inside a German gurdwara left three people injured.
The jathedar also called upon the Punjab government to take up the issue with the central government.
SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar also condemned the San Francisco incident and said it was all the more unfortunate that the victim was on way to California for delivering a motivational lecture based on his book on bullying in American schools.
Makkar called upon the US administration to create awareness about Sikh religious symbols and ask security agencies to respect the Sikh headgear and other articles of faith. The SGPC has already formed a panel to look into the reasons for racial violence against Sikhs.