UnitedSikhs
A Response to Dr.Rai's article
By :
Dr.Indarjit Singh,
Editor Sikh Messenger,
Director Network of Sikh Organisations UK

10 Feb 2008

Dr Rai's excursion into the French Revolution etc is interesting but totally irrelevant. The turban is a religious symbol, but, uniquely it is a symbol of a religion that does not believe in prosletysing. As such its wearing does not offend either secularists or people of other religions.

I put this to Bernard Stassi, the man appointed by President Chirac to lead on the issue at a meeting with the UK government's Inner City Religous Council and later at a dinner at the French embassy. He agreed that this was an important difference, and freely admitted that Sikhs had been forgotten in the then proposed new law aimed to curb Muslim men putting increasing pressure on Moslim women to wear headscarfs.He promised to try to find a quiet way round the problem.

Then Dr Rai came on the scene to muddy the waters by suggesting the turban was not a religious symbol but a cultural one. It not only lowers the impostance of Sikh identity to argue this way, but provides an argument for those that say cultural symbols cannot be defended as culture can change. I agree however with Dr Rai that coach loads of demonstrators have not helped.

I see no mileage in so-called Sikh scholars arguing over the issue. The French government have got themselves in a position from which it is now difficult to retreat.The only thing that can nudge it into allowing Sikhs to practice a religion, that far from threatening ,shows tolerance and respect for other ways of life, is to work to get Manmohan Singh and the Indian Government to threaten banning trade with those who abuse religious freedom. Its not easy, but we should not accept a simple wringing of hands from someone claiming to be a Sikh of Guru Gobind Singh.

Dr. Indarjit Singh
Editor Sikh Messenger,
Director Network of Sikh Organisations UK

Article Courtesy of -
International Human Rights Organization

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