Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sikh - and You Shall Find...

Should a turban be called "headwear"? slighted Sikh Singh
Late last year, the Manurewa Cosmopolitan Club barred a turban-wearing community leader - Karnail Singh - under a policy which bans entry to anyone wearing headwear, even for religious reasons.
The matter went to the Human Rights Commission in January and it was agreed that, depending on the outcome of a meeting last weekend, the issue may return to the commission. Well, that meeting decided no relaxing of the rules for anybody.
As you might imagine, the Sikh community is determined to fight this through the Human Rights Review Tribunal. It's the second time in two years the club's had to defend itself: previously it had banned a Muslim international student in a headscarf.
In the NZ Herald, Brian Rudman has taken up the cudgel, writing "Intolerant social club stuck in racist past". He cites the on-going global battle over the burqa as relevant to this situation, and also uses various incidents of racism from the 1920s-50s: these seem a rather crude attempt to muddy the waters and slur the Club's intentions.
But this is not racism. The club did not say: you can't enter... because you are a Sikh. It said: you can't enter... wearing headwear. The no-hats rule came from a past era, when good manners decreed one did not wear one's fedora inside (and yes, from the same era as quoted above).
If the members vote for the rule to remain, who are we to complain? It is after all a PRIVATE club, and I have a sneaky suspicion that the law has an exemption for private clubs. This may yet become an interesting test case though...

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