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This Press Release may be read online at: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/COMVCE-22-02-2008-00.htm

Press Release: 22nd Feb 2008, Friday, 11th Phalgun (Samvat 539 Nanakshahi )

Community Alert

Sikhs Facing Discrimination Due to  Improper ID Guidelines

Join US in Fighting Religious Discrimination on Photo IDs
To report discrimination regarding your photo ID, click here: http://unitedsikhs.org/photoidreport


- If a licensing official tells you to take off or lift your turban for a photo id, you have the right to say no.

- Tell the licensing official that you always wear your turban, it is a religious requirement, and that it is part of your everyday appearance.

- If the licensing official states that you cannot obtain a license without removing your turban, or prints “not valid for identification on the license,” write down the details of the incident (date, location, what happened), official’s information (name, id number, and phone), and ask for a copy of the specific guidelines the official is following.

- Contact UNITED SIKHS immediately to report your incident, by clicking here or by telephone at 1-888-243-1690.

New York, NY, USA - Earlier this month, UNITED SIKHS asked you to join an initiative to report discriminatory practices when obtaining photograph identification. Thanks to your continued diligence and concern, we have received two reports of discriminatory practices in South Carolina, in addition to the previously reported incident in Washington State.

In South Carolina, two Sikh gentlemen were asked on separate occasions to remove their turbans for their driverís licenses. The two Sikhs protested and firmly refused to remove their turbans, repeatedly explaining the significance of the turban and how it is part of their daily appearance.

While the South Carolina officials continued to express that it was against their policy to allow any headdress in the photographs, the officials eventually relented and both gentlemen received their licenses, wearing their turbans as usual. UNITED SIKHS is pursuing a dialogue with the Department of Motor Vehicles in South Carolina and with State representatives to ensure that a proper policy is instituted to protect Sikh religious rights in South Carolina.

In a letter to the Director of the Department of Licensing in Washington State regarding the incident dealing with a Sikh gentleman who was issued a license that was "Not Valid for Identification," UNITED SIKHS highlighted the significance of the turban for Sikhs and how it is part of the Sikh identity. The letter also expressed that biometric standards used by the federal government allowed headpieces worn daily for religious purposes, like the turban, so long as they do not shadow or obscure a person's face. According to UNITED SIKHS Staff Attorney Jaspreet Singh, "In no way does a turban interfere with the identification procedure, nor does it violate any standard for identification. To claim that a turban does indeed do either of these things is discrimination."

UNITED SIKHS asks that you continue to report incidents involving you, your family, and your community so that we are able to continue to collate important data to be furnished to the proper authorities, as well as to pursue specific incidences of discrimination to ensure that your rights are protected.

For an earlier press release on UNITED SIKHS' initiative to combat religious discrimination for photograph identification, please visit: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-08-02-2008-00.htm. To report discrimination regarding your photo ID, click here: http://unitedsikhs.org/photoidreport/

Issued by

Baljit Kaur
International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy (ICHRA)
Email: law@unitedsikhs.org
1 646 315 3909

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