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Badesha to challenge motorcycle helmet law

03/11/2008


http://www.southasianfocus.ca/community/article/44758
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    A turban-wearing Sikh who recently lost his battle to ride a motorcycle without a helmet is poised to challenge the law on the same religious grounds “in the larger interests of all the Sikh community”.

    Significantly, the appeal he plans will seek to change the law itself, for all community members, rather than be a lone bid to fight an individual battle against a $110 fine.

    “This time I will not fight for myself, but I will challenge Ontario’s law in the larger interests of all Sikhs who want to ride a bike,” 39-year-old Baljinder Singh Badesha of Brampton told South Asian Focus.

    Sikh community members met over the weekend at a gurdwara and, after thoroughly discussing last week’s court decision and the law in British Columbia, Manitoba and the United Kingdom— where helmet use is not mandatory— decided to challenge the law.

    Local Sikh residents demonstrated their backing for Badesha, as did United Sikh Federation and World Sikh Organization.

    “We are confident of winning the battle this time,” said Badesha. “We don’t believe a helmet is safe. Everyday riders with helmets die in road accidents. If I’m supposed to die today, I will die, and nothing can save me.”

    Some local Sikh residents also suggested the authorities need to keep an open mind on the issue.
    "With the turban we are perfectly safe. We need to educate the government more and we will keep working on it," said Manjit Mangat, a Brampton resident.

    Earlier, the World Sikh Organization of Canada expressed disappointment at the Ontario Court of Justice’s decision against Badesha, saying: “A turban is an important Sikh article of faith that shouldn’t covered by any other object.”

    The WSO said wearing a turban didn’t substantially raise the risk either to the rider or to others on the road, as has been proven by the many Sikh motorcyclists in other jurisdictions who have been riding with their turbans for many years without any problem.

    -By NOUMAN KHALIL

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