Sikhs in Germany Seek Meeting with German Leaders on Turban Issue

May 20, 2004

German Sikh leaders will seek meetings with the German President, Prime Minister and other political and social leaders to explain the significance of the Turban in the wake of moves in several States in Germany to ban the wearing of religious signs and clothing.

In March, the Berlin city-state passed a law banning the wearing of muslim headscarves, the Sikh Turban , Jewish Kippa and Christain Crosses by public servants,school teachers, firefighters, police officers, court officers and municipal workers. Prior to that, five other States had banned the muslim headscarf but not the Turban, Kippa or Christian Cross. These other states are Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Hessen, the Saarland and Lower Saxony.

When passing the Law, the Berlin legislators said that they had included the Sikh Turban, Christian Cross and the Jewish Kippa in the ban to not single out the Muslim community.

The Berlin law has not been implemented because of opposition from the 140,000 Turks living in Berlin. The Sikhs feel that their voice should also be heard.

The German Sikh community will also be writing to each Member of Parliament and the State Legislature to ensure that they are not caught in the firing line of legislation that will ban the wearing of the Turban.

The Central Gurdwara Committee Germany, which represents the 20 Gurdwaras in Germany, has requested United Sikhs to assist them in their efforts. United Sikhs has appointed a coordinator to assist them in their endeavors.

"We will invite leaders of political parties, Trade Unions, Minority Commissions,Town Hall Mayors and other community representatives to Gurdwaras throughout Germany over the next few months," said Gurcharan Singh Goraya, the Frankfurt Gurdwara representative of the 5-member Committee.

"We hope that by meeting the Sikh community, a dialogue of understanding will begin between German Sikhs and the mainstream German community," he added.

There are about 15,000 Sikhs in Germany, the largest population being in Frankfurt, followed by Cologne.

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