‘Dismay’ at Irish police turban ban

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THE IRISH Police force has been criticised by the Metropolitan Police Sikh Association for telling a Sikh recruit he would have to remove his turban before taking up his post.

The Sikh man, who has not been named, was told his turban did not fit in with uniform guidelines and would have to replace it with a cap should he wish to take up his position with the An Garda Siochana – the name of the Irish police force.

But the decision, which was backed by the country’s Integration Minister Conor Lenihan, was criticised by the Metropolitan Police Sikh Assoication (MPSA).

They said they were “dismayed” at the decision and accused the force of racially discriminating against the Sikh man.

“The Metropolitan Police Sikh Association is dismayed to learn that Ireland’s police force; An Garda Siochana has racially discriminated against the Sikhs in their refusal to allow a Sikh officer to wear a turban as part of his police uniform”, they said in a statement.

“The test of any civilised Country is how it treats its minorities, and in this particular case, it is not the Sikh volunteer that has failed the “integration test”.

London’s Metropolitan police is just one of many forces across the world which allows Sikh men to wear the turban.

The controversy surfaced after a Sikh man, an IT professional in his 20s, began training to join the Garda Reserve. Initially he was told wearing a turban would not be a problem but later a senior officer warned him if he wanted to go on duty in a station he would have to remove his turban.

Reports have suggested he has now decided against joining the force.

Integration Minister Conor Lenihan had backed the force’s stance saying “if we are to take integration seriously, people who come here must understand our way of doing things”.

But the MPSA said unless the decision was reversed “the Sikh Community of Ireland will enjoy no confidence in their police force”.

Harpreet Singh, President of Irish Sikh Council, also criticised the ban saying “although we strongly believe and accept that as an immigrant community we should respect and adopt cultural values of Irish community. But we would like to stress that integration is a two way process. Integration can never be brought about by asking the migrant communities to give up their basic beliefs.”

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