School Discriminates against Sikh Student

 An Anglican school in Queensland has expelled a Sikh student for wearing a turban. The wearing of a turban is mandatory for devout Sikhs who do not cut their hair and use the turban to keep their hair in place. I work in New South Wales as a Buddhist chaplain in gaols and many Corrective Services officers are Sikhs who wear the regulation uniform but wear a turban in conformity with their religious obligations. This does not create a problem for the Department of Corrective Services.

However, I am appalled that the Sikh community is still suffering discrimination in many parts of Australia. Australia is NOT an Anglo-European society where all citizens must conform to Anglo-European norms. We are, proudly,  a multicultural, multiracial and multireligious society which makes Australia an interesting and great country. We should not impose any rules which constitute a breach of the  traditions of any religious or ethnic community as long as they do not break the laws of our country or cause offence to its citizens. How can the wearing of a turban cause offence to anyone irrespective of their own religious tradition? Are we  going to ban the wearing of robes by Buddhist monks? Are we going to ban  the wearing of white reversed collars by Christian clergy? As an Australian of Anglo ethnic background, I am proud to live in a country where many ethnic communities live in harmony and share their rich traditions. Do we want to revert to the dull Australia of the “White Australia” days? I say emphatically “NO”. Let us retain our multicultural harmonious society which is a model for the rest of the world. We must be vigilant  and oppose any attempt to impose conformity on any religious or ethnic  group of law abiding and peaceful Australians.

6 Comments

  1. Garrick Millar said,

    29 January, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    G’day, I have no religious beliefs to speak of but I believe that everyone can believe in what ever they wish, just don’t expect me to follow.

    In other words I disagree with everything you say and do, but I will fight for your right to say and do it, (and I have done).

  2. ananda76 said,

    6 February, 2009 at 7:34 pm

    Dear Garrick,
    Thank you for your comment. You demonstrate that you are a tolerant person and defend the rights of all despite possible disagreement with their views. In light of this, I can’t understand why you say “I disagree with everything I say and do”. It seems inconsistent with your sentiments in your comment. However, I appreciate your post.
    Graeme

    • Ken said,

      7 September, 2009 at 5:11 pm

      G’day there Graeme,

      Garrick’s comment about disagreeing is a quote and doesn’t specifically refer to what you say & do. It is often attributed to Voltaire but is actually from a later author who summarized Voltaire’s writing.

      However, I also note that there was little information in the original post. Could it be the expulsion was for something other than the student’s religion? Could it be that the student has claimed discrimination to hide the real reasons? Also, I hazard a guess that a Sikh enrolling in a Protestant School may well have been aware of potential religious conflicts as would the school.

      • ananda76 said,

        7 September, 2009 at 6:53 pm

        Hi Ken,
        You could be right. The incident happened some time ago so it is difficult to verify the reasons at this late stage

  3. Ken said,

    7 September, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    G’day there Graeme,

    Too true. I’d like to think that Australian culture as a whole wouldn’t be perturbed by a student wearing a turban, but there are always individuals & groups that “buck the system”.

    See ya,
    Ken

  4. Mujyo said,

    3 August, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    This is shocking, that this can still happen, Sihks moreover were allowed to retain their headdress even during combat along side our troops where ever then Indian Army fought ever since the Punjab wars, (I’m reminded by the previous comment about fighting for freedom). There’s a good reason for respecting it right there.
    But in addition how this headdress offends is beyond comprehension. These actions by Christians are more laughable – especially in the case of women, when one remembers that Christian Nuns still wear a headdress! Nothing against Christians, but really!…


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