By Manpreet Singh
On August 5, 2012, a gunman barged into a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and killed a total six people. All the victims were males who were wearing turbans. These innocent men were killed for practicing their religion by a man who was ignorant about the Sikh faith. Hate crimes like this have struck fear in many religious communities.
The turban’s significance traces back to Punjab, a state in India and the birthplace of Sikhism. In ancient time, only royalty would wear turbans as a symbol of high stature. At the time of Sikhism’s creation, a majority of the population was in poverty. The Sikh Gurus or prophets wanted to raise the status of the peasants and make them equal to the high class citizens at the time. Today Sikhs wear turbans to promote equality and maintain their Sikh identity.
Sadly, after the attack on September 11, the public often now fears misunderstood Sikhs because people wrongly associate them with terrorism. Pictures of Osama bin Laden with a turban has made people believe that all terrorists wear turbans. However, many people do not know that Osama Bin Laden wore a turban in order to pass off as a religious man.
Furthermore, Sikhs and Muslims are not the same people. Sikhs wear turbans to maintain their uncut hair,which they believe is a gift from God that must be maintained.
“Sikhs have lived in America for more than 150 years, helped build the Transcontinental Railroad, served valiantly in every major world war, stood at the forefront of civil rights struggles, and were first responders on 9/11,” according to The Atlantic.
Many Sikh children end up cutting their hair because they are bullied and teased about their turbans. Many adults also end up cutting their hair because their workplace does not want someone who wears a turban.
According to The Atlantic, in a group of 180 students surveyed in Fresno, California, a third said they were bullied because their peers thought they look like terrorists.
It’s ironic how the First Amendment states that all citizens have the right to practice any religion, yet many Sikhs still face discrimination today because of their faith.
We have students at our school that wear turbans who have grown up with teasing and hateful looks because they look different, but still remained truthful to their faith.
“I wear a turban because it is a defining factor of my identity. I’ve always been the kid with a turban but having a full on turban allows me to build an identity based on both my personality and my physical image,” junior Gurbir Singh said.
Although society had evolved in treating everyone equally, there are still elements of racism that remain unchanged. Therefore, society needs to learn not to judge people based on how they look.