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Taxpayers face £100,000 bill after police force fails to find Sikh-friendly helmet

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#1
A police force spent £100,000 on a failed attempt to find protective headgear that fits over Sikh officers' turbans.

West Midlands Police started its search after one Sikh constable decided he wanted to join the counter-terrorist Operational Support Unit.

The man, thought to be in his mid-20s, was refused a place because he was unable to fit the necessary helmet and respirator over his turban and beard, both of which are requirements for strict adherents to his faith.

According to a police source, the unnamed constable claimed he was being discriminated against and was then assigned the task - while on full pay - of sourcing new equipment that would fit.

A helmet and respirator would be needed for certain counter terrorist operations to guard against possible chemical and biological weapons.

The officer contacted manufacturers across the world to see if they could adapt their gear but after 18 months his search ended in vain and he was restored to regular duties.

A few weeks later he is said to have gone on long-term sick leave suffering from stress.

The source, who estimated the total cost of the failed project, including the officer's wages, at £100,000, said: 'This was a shocking waste of taxpayers' cash.'

Turbans consist of around 15ft of cloth wound around the head.

Sikh men wear them to cover their hair, which they leave uncut in accordance with their religion. They often wear their long beards rolled up.

As well as being a sign of spirituality, the turban is also a symbol of Sikh identity and of courage.

Dr Indarjit Singh, director of the Network of Sikh Organisations, said: 'It is mandatory for adult Sikh men to wear the turban, but there is a dilemma in some areas such as this where the police say wearing the helmet and respirator is absolutely necessary. The officer in question has approached me for advice.



The police respirator suit used by the counter-terrorist Operational Support Unit


'He wants to be a good Sikh role model and is very sincere in feeling that he should be allowed to wear the turban at all times.'

Sikh soldiers serving in the British Army refused to wear helmets during the First and Second World Wars.

They fought with their turbans on, several receiving the Victoria Cross for acts of gallantry.

Former West Midlands Police Chief Superintendent John Mellor said the West Midlands scheme was a case of 'health and safety gone mad'.




He said: 'If this officer wishes to be in the OSU at his own risk, he should be able to carry out his training and his duties without the protective equipment.

'If they are going to insist on these precautions, then spending taxpayers' money looking for a way to get around their own rules is totally ridiculous.'

A force spokesman said: 'No Sikh officer has applied and been "turned down" from joining the Operational Support Unit because of faith issues.

'However, it has been identified that for some members of the Sikh faith, the removal of the turban to wear a helmet and the wearing of a respirator could be problematic.

'As an employer committed to equality and diversity, we are working to try and find a solution to what is a national issue.'



Sikh men: Turbans and beards are mandatory






By David Wilkes
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/index.html
 

FUBAR69

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#3
Its ok saying if he does not wear a helmet then it is at his own risk, but the truth is if he does not he is more of a liability to his fellow team members.
 

digidude

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#4
im sorry, but what a crock of shit, he cant do the job as religion stops him from wearing protective suits that may save his life, so then hes being discriminated against, yet he knew this would be a part of the job before going for it

its be like me wanting to test tampons, then screaming sexual discrimination for being turned down

the police force should just say 'heres YOUR choice, wear the same life saving equipment as the rest of the team, or look else where'

fkin backwards country we live in
 

phawk754

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#5
just shows how f*** up we are now getting ,if something you must wear for your religion stop you from doing a job then find a new job ,,easy
 

digidude

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#6
whatll it be next? alcoholic bus drivers dueing their companies for stopping them from drinking?

lol
 

dave24

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#8
because the c*nts seen the pound signs,fookin stress what a joke.
there are sikhs in the army who wear the same helmets as everyone else, I wonder why the same thing cant happen here.
 

Munkey

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#9
Some of the comments posted here are downright backward. People should take a look at what Sikhism has contributed to this country before making such BS comments.

Sound like a bunch of ill educated rednecks on a Texas farm.
 

digidude

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#10
Some of the comments posted here are downright backward. People should take a look at what Sikhism has contributed to this country before making such BS comments.

Sound like a bunch of ill educated rednecks on a Texas farm.
on the same note though m8, before he applied for the job, he would have known what the job entailed. if his religion means that much to him that he cant take off his turban, and all the kit made by everyone all over the world still wont work for what he wants, so he now has to make a decision, take the job, rick his own life and the lifes of his team mates who will have to rescue him, or choose another job. but to then go on the sick and claim its stress for something that he took upon himself to do, that would only benefit him, paid for by others, is total crap, and goes to show the sort of world we now live in, if you cant get your own way, shout and scream untill you do, or become the victim
 

3dfella

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#11
I have a lot of respect for the Sikhs but this is a joke. Religion is a choice pure and simple. If I chose to be a punk and applied for this job. What would happen when I was told that my spiky hair wouldnt fit in the helmet and I said well you better find me a helmet that accomodates my spiky hair? Two words off and fook and not necessarily in that order.

The requirements of any job are clear and if you because of your own choices cant meet them then you are not suitable. If you value religion more than your career then fair enough but the choice is yours.
 

mojo247

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#12
couple of different threads started on a sikh religion looks like flavour of the month.

good to see not only islam being discussed on dw.

maybe sikhs on here can enlighten us non-sikhs

:Cheers:
 
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#13
bit off topic.. but cant Sikh's carry ceremonial knives, that gonna screw Brown's new laws up
No public place should allow people to carry knives.

Sikhs need to stop carrying knives.

Peopl say oh its part of their faith yes it is, its supposed be used for stabbing people not cutting vegtables. lol
 
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#14
sikhism is a reformed sect of hinduism, it reformed due to the overwhelming influence of Islam in the Indian sub continent.

Its book guru granth sahib has many verses from sufi poetry.

Guru Nanak may not have been muslim or he may have, he was how ever very influenced by sufism and his main companion was a sufi musician

he was born in the area which is now pakistan, many indian sikhs make pilgrimage to pakistan to his birth place
 

vik_x

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#15
The Kirpan (ceremonial sword) worn by followers of the Sikh religion sometimes raises questions or concerns among people who are unfamiliar with the religion or it's tenants. The Kirpan is an ingrained part of the Sikh religion and is in many ways it’s religious symbolism is similar to the Cross in Christianity. Just as a Cross is worn be devout Christians, baptized Sikhs are required to wear the Kirpan. The Kirpan is no more symbolic a weapons than the Christian Cross is symbolic of a torture instrument.

Sikhism is a 500 year old religion with over 20 million followers worldwide. It is ranked as a major world religion with even more followers than Judaism for example. Guru Nanak (1469-1539) who preached a message of One God for all of humanity founded it. He stressed loving devotion to God and universal principles of morality, truth and honest living and full equality of mankind irrespective of race, caste, creed or sex. Nine successive prophets succeeded Guru Nanak, the line ending with Guru Gobind Singh in 1708. Sikhism is not a new-age movement, cult or sect, but a well established and respected major world religion with it's own distinctive beliefs and practices.

The Kirpan has been an integral part of the Sikh religion since it's early inception and has a very sacred religious symbolism for Sikhs. To suggest that it is a `dagger', or a `weapon' or merely a cultural symbol is both misleading and offensive to Sikhs.

To Sikhs the Kirpan is religiously symbolic of their spirituality and the constant struggle of good and morality over the forces of evil and injustice, both on a individual as well as social level. The usage of the Kirpan in this religious context is clearly indicated in the Sikh holy scriptures (Sri Guru Granth Sahib) and wearing it is ment to inspire a Sikh in their daily life;

"To forsake pride, emotional attachment, and the sense of `mine and yours', is the path of the double-edged sword." (Guru Arjan Dev, Devgandhari, pg. 534)

"From the Guru, I have obtained the supremely powerful sword of spiritual wisdom. I have cut down the fortress of duality and doubt, attachment, greed and egotism. The Name of the Lord abides within my mind; I contemplate the Word of the Guru's hymns." (Guru Ram Das, Maru, pg. 1087)

Guru Gobind Singh introduced the metaphor of the Kirpan to refer to God and his qualities;

"O Sword, O Conqueror of continents, O Vanquisher of the hosts of evil, O Embellisher of the brave in the field of battle. Thy Arms are unbreakable, Thy Light refulgent, Thy Glory and Splendor dazzle like the sun. O Happiness of the holy, O Crusher of evil intent, O Subduer of sin, I seek Thy refuge." (Guru Gobind Singh, Vachitra Natak, Chapter I)

The practice of Sikhs carrying the Kirpan as a religious symbol can be traced back to the lifetime of the sixth Sikh prophet, Guru Hargobind (1595-1644). Guru Hargobind regularly carried two swords, symbolic of a Sikhs spiritual as well as temporal obligations. Guru Hargobind introduced Sikhs to the concept of being a Sant-Sipahi (Saint-Soldier). A Sikh must be a Saint always meditating and remembering God. At the same time a Sikh is also expected to be a soldier, a person taking part in their social responsibilities to their family and community. Following the path of law, order and morality as laid out by the Sikh Gurus.

It was Guru Gobind Singh, the final living Sikh prophet who formally instituted the mandatory requirement for all baptized Sikhs to wear the Kirpan at all times. He instituted the current Sikh baptism ceremony in 1699 which is referred to as the `baptism of the sword' (khanda di pahul). During the ceremony sugar crystals and water are stirred in a steel bowl with a Kirpan before the initiate drinks the mixture. During the baptism ceremony the initiate is instructed in the duties and obligations of becoming a Khalsa (one belonging to the Divine). The Khalsa is expected to live by the high moral standards of the Sikh Gurus at all times which includes such things as abstaining from smoking, drinking and other intoxicants, performing daily prayers and always maintaining the distinctive physical symbols of Sikhism on their person. The most noticeable of these being uncut hair and carrying the Kirpan.

This injunction appears in the Reht Maryada (The Official Sikh Code of Conduct); "Have, on your person, all the time, the five K's: The Keshas (unshorn hair), the Kirpan (sheathed sword), the Kachhehra (drawers like garment), the Kanga (comb), the Karha (steel bracelet)." (Reht Maryada, Ceremony of Baptism or Initiation, Section 6, Chapter XIII, Article XXIV, paragraph (p))

The Reht Maryada does not specify the length of the Kirpan or how it is to be worn by the devotee. Kirpans can be anywhere from 3 foot swords carried by Sikhs on religious festivals, marriages and parades, to a few inches in length. They can either be worn over ones clothing or under the clothing. The Kirpan is usually kept sheathed except when it is withdrawn from it's casing on such occasions as consecration of the ceremonial sweet pudding distributed during religious ceremonies.

To suggest that the Kirpan is a weapon is both incorrect and misleading. If it was instituted as a weapon, then would Sikhs not be expected to carry guns today? Guns were in common use during the time of Guru Gobind Singh. If the Kirpan was purely a soldiers weapon for Sikhs, than why do they not also carry a shield as well or other armour? Why do modern armies and soldiers carry swords on ceremonial occasions? Because it is symbolic of their military tradition and heritage. In the same way Sikhs carry the Kirpan at all times because it is symbolic of their religious tradition and heritage.
 

3dfella

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Yes mate, good, well written and informative post. I would counter that by stating that Christians arent expected to draw blood every time they show there crossess off! Personally though I dont see an issue with the Sikh knife as I have never heard of anyone being stabbed with one. I do think however that carrying a knife should be illegal and that if any Sikh wished to do so they should be granted a license only if they are a fit and proper person who can be trusted to do so. In much the same way as person who owns a shotgun must.
 
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#17
I am going to sue the government for not letting me perform my job as an ice cream man because of my Religion (ok it's still in its infancy, but I did and do write down the word of god, and you have to believe me, and if you don't you have no faith).

I do not need a head dress. But...






my religion forces me to wank furiously whilst hitting myself on the back with a cat 'o' nine tails, shouting' hey, im soooo naughty'

Do the fascist dictators at Whitehall let me do this?

It's one rule for one, and one for another.

In fact I could use the turban to wipe up my sperm from the ice cream van floor...

/mozr adds another line to his scripture.
 
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#18
Delegates from the Sikh Federation in the West Midlands were not allowed to enter the European Parliament because they were wearing kirpans it has been claimed.

LibDem Euro-MP Liz Lynne was supposed to welcome a delegation from the Sikh Federation to the Parliament, but it finished as a protest outside the building when, for the third year running, delegates were not allowed to enter.

This was allegedly because some were wearing the kirpan (a Sikh ceremonial dagger), but delegates not wearing it were also denied entrance to Parliament.

Liz Lynne MEP, Vice-President of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee and member of the Human Rights Subcommittee, joined the protest with other MEPs and said, "This decision is outrageous. In the UK the right to wear the kirpan is enshrined in law, as it should be across the EU.

"Sikhs have made an outstanding contribution to the wealth and diversity of society in the West Midlands and elsewhere across Europe, and to treat EU citizens in this way is totally unjustified.

"I wrote last week to President Pöttering of the European Parliament hoping to ensure entrance for my constituents but to no avail. I now hope to lead a cross party campaign on this issue to ensure this discrimination cannot be allowed to continue here or anywhere else.

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"The Sikh faith should be recognised throughout the EU, kirpans are widely regarded as a religious symbol, not a threat, and to refuse entry to those wearing them is discrimination pure and simple."

On the role of the EU's anti-discrimination legislation in combating discrimination faced by Sikh's in the workplace, Liz added: "If we are to remove discrimination from all places of work across the EU, including this Parliament, we need to ensure the 2000 Employment Directive is properly implemented across Europe, something which many Member States have failed to do. I hope anyone who feels they have been discriminated against in the workplace finds the courage and support they need to take further action."
 

thevman2k5

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#19
I am a Sikh and I am shocked by this guys actions. I think it is great he wants to help the community but the fact that stress is absolute bullshit.

I think though we should try and accompany all religions, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, Hindus and so on. If these people want to give something to the world, the community then come on surely we shouldn't be slating them.

As for the Kirpan, I have you know that all kirpans are blunt and we are not allowed to use it. Just as the Christian cross it is a religious item that we must wear. I for one have never heard of a kirpan being used and will always be against it being used. The only time in fact i have heard it being used was in self defence of another person and that wasn't even in this country. Us sikhs are good people, just like all other religions. People exploting loopholes are not!! The guy shouldn't get a penny coming from a fellow sikh.
 

vik_x

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#20
Yes mate, good, well written and informative post. I would counter that by stating that Christians arent expected to draw blood every time they show there crossess off! Personally though I dont see an issue with the Sikh knife as I have never heard of anyone being stabbed with one. I do think however that carrying a knife should be illegal and that if any Sikh wished to do so they should be granted a license only if they are a fit and proper person who can be trusted to do so. In much the same way as person who owns a shotgun must.
Carrying a knife, I agree should be illegal. But the person carrying the Kirpan (knife) needs to be Baptised in order to be able to carry one. Only the mentally and spiritual Sikh is able to carry a kirpan in accordance to Sikhism. And in order to be baptised, one needs to be Pure and seriously mentally strong, that is only when one carries a Kirpan, anyone else who is not Baptised and carries a kirpan, and uses it incorrectly will be punished in the Court of God.