By Jaginder Singh Raipatti (Batu Gajah) | MALAYSIA | OPINION |
The turban has been and will always remain a very unique symbol of pride and honour to followers of the Sikh faith. Hence, when the turban is ridiculed and undermined, the faithful will rise and defend its sanctity. We all witnessed how the Sikh community, both local and international, rose to express their anger and frustration at a blogger who poked fun at the turban worn by a high ranking police officer. It was indeed a very welcome show of unity among Sikhs in Malaysia, who all stood together and did the needful to speak up and have their voices heard. It has ended well, at least for now, with the blogger offering apologies to the Sikh community.
Indeed, this unpleasant event has brought out the best among Sikhs. Not only did those who wore turbans expressed their sentiments, but even those who didn’t wear a turban stood in solidarity. There was even support from non-Sikhs, though it could have been stronger and louder, to send home the message that no individual should sow hatred and create animosity in a multi-racial and multi-religious society like ours, by ridiculing the tenets or practices of a religion.
The overwhelming support for the turban, as a sacred symbol of Sikh religion and its practices, is a good indicator of appreciation for Sikh culture and identity. This should encourage more Sikhs to wear the turban, even if you are not a Kesadhari, when going to school, to the Gurdwara, at social events and so on. As Sikhs, we should be proud of our identity and rich heritage. The turban is synonymous to the Sikhs and it stands out uniquely, even in crowds of millions.
Our response to the situation was prompt. Sikh organisations like Malaysian Gurdwara Council (MGC) and Khalsa Diwan Malaysia (KDM), and many others, lodged police reports and made press statements to express their displeasure. Our Sikh Federal Minister also took a swipe at the blogger for showing disrespect to the Sikh community. Some took to social media to vent their anger by making threats, using harsh words, even profanities, not only towards the blogger but his family as well.
The reaction is understandable. But pause for a moment. Did we react wisely and accordingly? Or did we also react ignorantly as the blogger did? Did some of us overreact? I leave that decision to you but we all need to do some serious reflection.
The blogger should have kept his debate with the police by arguing on the facts but he deviated, and erred by ridiculing the turban and befittingly, earned the wrath of Sikhs. Similarly, some of us responded to the blogger’s comments via social media by making remarks which deviated very far from the real issue. Our problem was with the blogger and his comments, and had nothing to do with his family, his race or religion. We could have exercised some restraint and showed composure when dealing with such sensitive issues by highlighting the facts and showing the blogger why his comments were deemed racist and derogatory.
In a nutshell, I view this unfortunate incident as an awakening call to all Sikhs. The show of unity and brotherhood in defending the tenets and practices of the Sikh religion should not be an isolated one. There is strength in unity, and our voices reach out far. It’s important that we preserve our identity, and be proud of it. If you haven’t been wearing a turban, it’s never too late!
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
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