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Victory for turban: US judge apologies to Sikh

Kalamazoo County, Michigan (USA): It is learnt that a US judge has sent personal letter of apology to a Sikh Hardeep Singh for asking him to remove his ‘hat’ in the courtroom.

According to TOI, giving details of the incident staff attorney, International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy, United Sikhs, a Sikh NGO, Manmeet Singh told on Wednesday that Hardeep Singh, resident of Battle Creek, Michigan was accompanying his friend to the court hearing in the Kalamazoo Country Probate Court on October 16, 2012. He was asked to remove his ‘hat’.

He said that all his attempts to explain that it wasn’t a hat but a Sikh turban, an inseparable part of his Sikh identity were halted by the judge. Another couple’s effort to defend Hardeep Singh failed too. The judge asked Singh to either remove his “hat” or leave the courtroom following which Hardeep chose to leave the courtroom.

This incident came as a rude shock and Sikhs were appalled at the treatment meted out to one of their own by a giver of justice.

After the incident United Sikhs legal team filed a Civil Rights Complaint with the Department of Justice. “After persistent advocacy, positive results have been achieved” said he.

“We are humbled to announce another civil rights policy advocacy victory resulting in the modification of court procedures in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, to recognize the Sikh religious practices” he said.

Singh told that their advocacy leads to a new policy on accommodation of religious attire and headwear in Kalamazoo County Probate Court in Michigan.

The apology letter, the new non discrimination policy related to religious attire and headwear, the new complaint form and training for court staff were all steps in the right direction. “The new policy and complaint form will benefit not only Sikhs, but also Jews, Muslims and people of other faiths who wear some sort of head covering or religious attire” said Singh.

Amrit bani

Yudhvir Rana, The Times of India

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