News & Views
Election of the IOSS
Principal Prabhjot Kaur was unanimously re-elected President for the year 2013 of the Institute of Sikh Studies in their meeting held on December 7, 2012.
Sikhs Win School Turban Ban Case Against France in the UN
“The UN Human Rights Committee has made our nine year wait for justice worthwhile, since the French law was passed against religious signs in public schools in 2004. The UNHRC has once again proved to be the beacon of light for the freedom of thought, conscience and religion by upholding that the Article 18 right under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to manifest ones religion, cannot be overridden merely by pleading secularity without producing any evidence that the Sikh Turban would affect the right of other students or would affect order in the school,” said Mejindarpal Kaur, United Sikhs Legal Director, who is in the fore-front of a legal campaign for French Sikhs’ right to wear their turban.
Paris, France, 14 Dec 2012 - The UN Human Rights Committee has ruled that France’s ban on the wearing of “conspicuous” religious symbols in schools - introduced in a law adopted in March 2004 - violated a Sikh student’s right to manifest his religion, protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). In a decision that was sent out this week to the United Sikhs legal team, in relation to a complaint made by Bikramjit Singh in 2008, the Committee accepted that the wearing of a turban is regarded as a religious duty for a Sikh and is also tied in with his identity; and that France had not justified the prohibition on the wearing of the turban.
The Committee accepted that the France was entitled to uphold the principle of secularism (laïcité),; it recognised that the adoption of the 2004 law had responded to actual incidents of interference with the religious freedom of pupils and sometimes even threats to their physical safety.
However, the Committee went on to express the opinion that this was not enough to justify the interference with religious rights that the law represented. France had “not furnished compelling evidence that by wearing his keski (small turban) [Bikramjit] would have posed a threat to the rights and freedoms of other pupils or to order at the school. The Committee also considered that the penalty of permanent exclusion had not been shown to be necessary; and that it had been imposed not because of any harmful conduct by Bikramjit, but because he belonged to a broad category of people by their religious conduct. In the Committee’s view, France had not shown “how the sacrifice of those persons’ rights is either necessary or proportionate to the benefits achieved”. The views were adopted on 1st Nov 2012, at the 106th session of the Committee’s sitting. It also has a moral duty to ensure that the freedom of religion and belief is upheld for everyone who lives within its territory.”
The Sikhs and the British Army
Con Coughlin is the Telegraph’s Defence Editor and a world-renowned expert on global security and terrorism issues. He is the author of several critically acclaimed books. His new book, Khomeini’s Ghost, is published by Macmillan. He appears regularly on radio and television in Britain and America.
I’ve been rather surprised by all the media attention over the appearance of Guardsman Jatenderpal Bhullar on parade duty outside Buckingham Palace this week. For sure, Guardsman Bhullar, 25, has become the first Sikh to wear his turban on guard duty outside the palace. But it is not all that long ago that turban-wearing Sikhs were a familiar feature of Britain’s military landscape, particularly when it came to fighting world wars.
During the glory days of the Indian Empire, Sikh soldiers were highly regarded by British officers for their martial prowess and never-say-die attitude. Sikh sepoys regularly fought alongside British soldiers during the frequent triba
l revolts on the Afghan frontier in famous regiments such as Rattray’s Sikhs, and the young Winston Churchill nearly lost his life rescuing a wounded Sikh when he fought in the Malakand campaign of 1897. At the Battle of Saragarhi on 12 September 1897, twenty-one Sikhs from the Indian Army’s Sikh Regiment won awards for gallantry.
There were, of course, the occasional moments when the loyalty Britain’s Sikh soldiers was called into question, most notably during the 1857 Indian Mutiny. But their bravery and courage became a mainstay of the British Army until Indian Independence, and thousands of Sikhs fought and died for Britain during two world wars.
Guardsman Bhullar, then, represents a long and distinguished tradition in the British Army, which today is still reflected in the traditional Sikh battle-cry, “Bole So Nihal, Sat Sri Akal” (Victory belongs to those who recite the name of God with a true heart).
France Using Technology to Address Sikh Turban Issue
New Delhi, December 20. In an attempt to address India’s concern over the Sikh turban issue, France has taken certain concrete measures through the European Union so that Sikhs would not have to remove their turbans or be touched during border checks while entering the country. Their physical check would be replaced by a body scan.
Paris has also informed New Delhi that it was engaged in a dialogue on the issue with Sikh students and their parents as well as Sikh organisations.
Ambassador Roland Dubretrand, Ambassador for Religious Issues in the French Foreign Ministry, and Louis Xavier Thirode, head of the Central Bureau of Faiths in the French Interior Ministry, were here earlier this week and held meetings with Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur and senior officials of the ministry.
Official sources said India utilised the opportunity to explain to the senior French officials the sensitivity of the Sikh community and its concerns in this regard. It was also pointed out to them that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other Indian leaders have raised the issue with top French leaders from time to time.
Preneet Kaur is understood to have told them that there was nothing more important to a human being than dignity and identity. She also drew their attention to some suggestions that have been made by India in the past to address the issue.
The Indian side welcomed France’s decision to use an appropriate technology such as the body scan in place of physical frisking or removing turbans.
Issue of Dignity
– Body scan to replace physical check so that Sikhs won’t have to remove their turbans or be touched during border checks while entering the country
– Paris has informed New Delhi that it is engaged in a dialogue on the issue with Sikh students, their parents and Sikh organisations. (Courtesy: The Tribune, December 21, 2012)
Thanks for publishing a great article “Gurdwara Culture” by S. Gajinder Singh Ji, reflects very profound thought process. Deeply appreciate it.
On Page 2,Line 20, there is a quote by S. Gajinder Singh Ji of Gurbani (ghar ghar hovey dharamsal vich kirtan nava niroa). Not sure about the authenticity of the shabad, may be I am not able to locate or could not find it.
Yes there is a reference in Bhai Gurdas Var 1, Pauri 27, shabad, which reads as: “ghar ghar ander dharamsal, hovei keertan sada visoa”
Will appreciate your help.
You are right. The verse was inadvertently misquoted – Editor
Perspectives on Sehaj in Gurbani
In respect of a detailed Article: “Perspectives on Sehaj in Gurbani” by the Respected S. Pritam Singh Jee Kohli, IAS (Retd) published at pages 7 to 22 of Quarterly Abstracts of Sikh Studies, Oct-Dec 2012, I wish to say that: two Quotes mentioned at pages 21 and 22 are neither found to be mentioned in the Guru Granth Sahib under Mahla 10 nor attributed in the name of “Nanak”.
On verification it is however noticed that -
1) ‘Dhann Jeeo Teh Ko Jag Mai Mukh Tey Her Mai Judh Bicharaiy...’ is the last Sawayya No. 2492 of Krisnavtar under sub-Title: Athh Prem Kathaa Kathhan - Kabieo Baach, Chaupayee; and
2) ‘Deh Shiva Bur Mohe Ihai...’ is listed at Serial No. 231 of Chandi Chariter (Ukit Bilas). Its English translation could be read by clicking website: www.Bindra.net under Essays in Sikhism plus... “Shiva: A Deity or Akal Purkh?”
Author of the said Article or Editor could have indicated their source by citing References. However, I am of the view that both these Quotes were not authored by Guru Gobind Singh Sahib.
Sikhs and Avtarvad
It is with deep regret and with a sense of shame, as to those who call ourselves as Sikhs, are Taking Guru Nanak’s Sikhi.
Here is an Example:
GOD is one but has innumerable forms.
He is the creator and He Himself takes the human form.
– Guru Nanak Dav ji
This is from a bill board displayed at Singh Sabha Gurdwara, Malton, Greater Toronto, Canada. This bill board is right behind where the Ragi Singhs or the Katha Vachak sit for performing Kirtan and Katha.
The bill board also has a photograph of Guru Nanak with Hand raised in Blessing, with the circular caption in Gurmukhi “Miti Dhund Jag Chanan Hoa .......” I am not a scholar of Sikhism, but my understanding of Akal Purkh, as enunciated in Mool Mantar, is without form (Nirankar) and is never born (Ajoni).
As an ordinary Sikh, the core belief has been that “Mool Mantar” is the basic fundamental of Sikhi. To see this being deliberately distorted is unacceptable. Mool Mantar clearly states that the Creator is all pervasive (omni present). The spark of His spirit is there in all and everything. However, spirit is not form. Ajooni, means never born and never dies. Akal, beyond death and time. If GOD is born in human form, he has to die also. Hence, it negates the basic Sikh belief, as enunciated in the Mool Mantar, about attributes of GOD. What such a message does is to create doubts in the mind of a simple Sikh like me.
The bill board is more in line with the Hindu belief of thirty three crores of Gods (Innumerable forms) and Avtar’s ( God taking birth in human form). What is being dished to us in the name of Sikhi is but Hinduism, in a Gurdwara , attributing this philosophy to Guru Nanak. To my mind nothing can be more shameful than this and individuals responsible must be held to account.
Is there any Central Sikh Authority who can stop this type of gross sacrilege and hold those responsible to account?
Attached please find two photographs in support of my contention. Kindly do not hesitate to contact me if you need any clarification. My e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
This e-mail may please be taken as a formal complaint from me to those authorities who have been charged with the responsibility to see that Gurbani is not turned upside down.
With very warm regards and best wishes.
Col Avtar Singh (retd)
The matter is being referred to Sri Akal Takht and the President, SGPC for ruling. – Editor
With reference to the subject matter, I am truly grateful to my friend Mr. Ajit Singh Sahota from Canada for his Rebuttal by pointing out my various blunders and short-comings as published at pages 91 to 97 of Quarterly “Abstracts of Sikh Studies” Oct-Dec 2012.
In the Guru Granth Sahib at page 872 under Raag Gond, Bhagat Kabir Jee says:
“As without mother and father, there can be no child, as without water, how can the clothes be washed and in the absence of a horse, how can one be a rider, so without the Enlightened devotees, one can not reach the Divine Court.”(3)
Hence, I am of the view that Marriage must be between the Man and Woman, and NOT between the same sex persons like an ‘eunuch marrying a hermaphrodite.
Further, I wish to say that my Article was not meant for the citizens of Canada as their Government is free to meet the requirements of its citizens but their Laws are not applicable to me in Australia. In the Australian Federal Parliament, “Same-sex Marriage Bill” was considered. 98 MPs voted against the Bill in the House of Representatives on 19 September 2012.” Thus the said Bill was defeated:
1 In the House of Representatives (Lower House), 42 were in favour but 98 against;
2 In the Senate (Upper House), 26 were in favour but 41 voted against.
Thanks for sharing the views for healthy discussion and guidance.
ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2012, All