The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has appealed to the US administration to show due respect to Sikhs and the turban they support, as they have got nothing to do with the acts of terror that have taken place on the US soil.
The appeal was issued by SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar, here on Tuesday, following reports that three or four Sikhs were stopped from entering a stadium in San Diego (California) on account of the turbans they were supporting on their heads. They had gone to the stadium for viewing a football match.
The security officials outside the stadium asked the Sikhs to take off their turbans if they wished to view the match. It was only after a lengthy conversation that the Sikhs were able to convince the security officials about the importance of the turban in their religion. Though the officials allowed them into the stadium but told them clearly that next time they should leave their turbans at home if they wished to enter the stadium.
Makkar said the entire Sikh community in the US and in other countries were pained at this type of behaviour by security officials. “Since 9/11, Sikhs have been at the receiving end in the US, often being mistaken as Muslims and becoming victims of hate crime,” he added.
“Time and again we have said that Sikhs are a peace-loving community that has always condemned terrorism and all forms of violence,” added Makkar.
The SGPc chief said Sikhs were a separate community and they have their own religious symbols. “The turban is an important symbol of the Sikhs and everyone should respect this,” he added.
Hails US army
Meanwhile, Makkar has hailed the decision of the US army, allowing an active duty Sikh combat soldier to grow his beard and to wear a turban. Captain Simratpal Singh had to cut his beard when he joined the armed forces as in accordance with US army rules a soldier cannot grow a beard. However, now the Sikh Capt has been granted temporary religious accommodation as far as growing of the beard is concerned.
“At a time when Sikhs with turbans are becoming victims of hate crime, this decision of the US army is a welcome step. We hope that it will go a long way in making all US citizens understand the importance of the turban and beard to Sikhs,” he said, while appealing to the US authorities to make this religious accommodation a permanent feature of the armed forces.