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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

BBC: Irish police to review turban ban

Irish Police Commissioner Noel Conroy has agreed to meet Sikh community leaders to discuss the ban on turbans imposed on officers.

The move comes after a Sikh trainee officer was told that he could not wear the turban on duty.

Members of Ireland's Sikh community are hoping to convince police to change the ruling.

But police say that religious symbols could lead the public to believe that they are not acting "impartially".

The man, who had already passed three stages of his training, was told of the ban before starting the fourth - in which he would have been working with members of the public.

The Republic's police force, known as An Garda Siochana, requires all officers to wear standard issue uniform - including a cap.

A statement issued on behalf of An Garda said that the public may view variations of the uniform as an indication that the force was not "policing all sections of society equally".

A spokesman for the force told the BBC that they were currently "examining" their policy on all religious symbols, including crucifixes and pioneer pins.

But the president of the Irish Sikh Council, Harpreet Singh, told BBC Radio Five Live that the turban was "a mandatory article of faith that a Sikh cannot take off".

He argued that the rules meant that An Garda were "asking the whole Sikh community to stay out of the police force".

Philip Watt, from the Irish Republic's National Consultative Committee on Racism and Interculturalism, also told BBC Radio that he thought the police had got it wrong.

"They've perhaps not thought it through full enough, and I think they should go back and review this decision now," he said. [Link]

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