Sikhs call for turban tolerance

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The Sikh community is outraged at what it says is a lack of cultural awareness after two incidents involving the wearing of turbans.

A Sikh family is fighting a landmark case after Ormiston College in Brisbane told them their 12-year-old son could only be enrolled if he complied with its uniform rules by cutting his hair and not wearing a turban.

The family, who cannot be named, has lodged a claim with the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland.

Sikhs explain: Why we wear a turban.

Uncut hair and turbans are both strict requirements of the Sikh religion.

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Today, it was reported that 13 Sikhs wearing turbans and a Muslim woman in a face veil were told by security staff at Brisbane Airport at the weekend to remove their headgear.

An airport spokesman denied any group or religion was being targeted and said the screening was common to all Australian airports under federal law, if security staff deemed it necessary.

But the president of the Brisbane Sikh Temple and a member of Sikh Council of Australia, Paramjit Singh Serai, said Sikh males’ turbans should not have to be removed anywhere.

He said he would discuss both matters with the council and hoped they would be taken up with federal Immigration Minister Chris Evans.

“We’ll be asking the minister to look into that and basically to come back to us,” Mr Serai said.

“Airport authorities are under the Federal Government so probably it will be appropriate to federal level and this is what we will consider.

“The turbans should not be removed for security, and at the same time, turbans are allowed at almost any other school, so why is this school (Ormiston) different to any other school?

“We need to create a bit more harmony and educate the people.

“They (the Federal Government) need to resolve this.”

He said the school student was owed an apology.

“Emotionally, he would be absolutely wrecked,” he said.

Ormiston College headmaster Brett Webster said yesterday the school had offered a place to the boy, but his family had not chosen to go ahead with the enrolment after being informed of the strict uniform policy.

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AAP, via, Australia
Feb. 26, 2008

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This post was last updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2008 at 6:02 PM, Central European Time (CET)