BIRMINGHAM, England—Thousands of Sikhs will today take part in simultaneous demonstrations in four European capitals to protest against what they say is a growing trend of intimidation and disrespect of their faith at European airports.
The UK demonstration will commence in Parliament Square in London at midday, 25th September and will be attended by community leaders and Sikhs from all over the country. Similar gatherings are being held in Brussels, Rome and Madrid.
In recent months, there have been increasing problems at Italian airports for Sikhs traveling from the UK being asked in very impolite and often belligerent terms to remove their turbans after having successfully passed through security scanners.
Abinash Singh and his wife Balraj from Hayes recently appeared on the Sikh Channel telling of their degrading experience at an Italian airport. The officials were not willing to take part in any dialogue but forced the removal of their turbans. Abinash said, “after the contribution of the Sikhs in the world wars, after the positive contribution made to European society by Sikhs, this treatment is deeply upsetting.“
Sikhs argue there is no justified security reason for removal of turbans which have successfully passed through scanners and feel victimised as a result of the ongoing 9/11 backlash against minorities.
The campaign to promote fair treatment for Sikhs is being co-ordinated by the Sikh Channel, a cable TV station based in Birmingham and London which broadcasts to an international audience.
A Famous Sikh said, “Reports from across Europe indicate that our Sikh brothers are being forced to remove their turbans at airport security. This is a totally unacceptable infringement of our faith, it‘s also totally unnecessary as a turban is no different than any other item of clothing in relation to a metal detector or x-ray machine.“
Campaigners are calling on national governments in Europe to investigate the treatment of Sikhs at airports and make representations to their European partners where Sikhs are found to have been abused.
Sikh celebrities will be joined by the Labour MP for Wolverhampton, Pat McFadden in addressing the demonstration. The demonstration will include army personnel and the world’s oldest marathon runner, Fauja Singh.