Assemblyman James Gallagher agrees to talk with Sikhs about legislation allowing “Kirpans” in California Courts
Assemblyman James Gallagher agrees to talk with Sikhs about legislation allowing “Kirpans” in California Courts https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPi4_Yfp-jU
Assemblyman Elect James Gallagher for the Yuba City California area said last night he will talk with Sikhs about legislation allowing “Kirpans” in California Courtrooms. I would like to encourage all Sikhs to support this effort of persuading Mr. Gallagher to introduce a bill before the California State Legislature to allow Sikhs to wear a “Kirpan” in California Courtrooms.
Below you will find a letter I sent to Mr. Gallagher requesting he introduce a bill in the California legislature for religious freedom of Sikhs to wear their Kirpan in courtrooms. Please feel free to use my letter as a template for also writing Mr. Gallagher. Mr. Gallagher’s e-mail address along with his assistant’s is below:
Dear Assemblyman Elect James Gallagher,
Congratulations on being elected to our State Assembly district here in Sutter County. I am one of the thousands of people in your district that follow the Sikh faith and I want to bring to your attention an important issue about how Sikhs have been banned in California from wearing one of our "articles of faith" while serving on jury duty in California Courtrooms.
You may know already that Sikhs have five articles of faith which we must wear at all times. One of these articles of faith is the Sikh “Kirpan”, a small sword that must be worn always at the side of practicing Sikhs. Recently I was summoned for jury duty at the Sutter County courthouse where I was refused admittance because I was wearing my “Kirpan”. The Sikh community protested this ban and we gave many reasons why Sikhs should be allowed to wear a “Kirpan” in the courtroom. I have listed all our arguments in the description for this video which aired on CBS TV News and covered the protest march at the Sutter County Courthouse a few months ago: “Sikhs protesting at California Courthouse for right to wear kirpan on jury duty: CBS TV News” http://sacramento.cbslocal.com/2014/04/29/sikh-man-barred-from-sutter-county-courthouse-for-refusing-to-remove-religious-dagger/
This was the in depth interview CBS did with me before the protest march: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OB6mWSceNxs
The fact that Sikhs are allowed to wear a “Kirpan” on a case by case basis in US Federal Courtrooms, some State Courthouses and in several western countries like the UK, Australia and Canada, shows that California is sadly faltering on this issue of religious freedom.
I would like your help in introducing a bill before the California State Legislature to allow Sikhs to wear a “Kirpan” with a reasonable blade length of six inches in California Courtrooms. Hundreds of thousands of Sikhs living in California have the same beliefs as me about the duty of a Sikh to wear their kirpan at all times, so by supporting this issue you will be doing a great service to the Sikh community not only in your district but state wide.
I pray you will consider my proposal and please call or write me about any other Sikh issues you may have questions or need information about as I do have a great deal of knowledge about the Sikh faith and issues in California and around the world. Please view some of my other videos and social media pages in order to see my views and knowledge about these Sikh issues.
Gursant Singh YouTube Channel:
Gursant Singh : The story of how I became a Sikh in 1981 & what followed on facebook:
All the best & God bless you
505 903 2675
Op Ed letter in the Huntington News: "Need More Education on Sikh Religion" Dear Judge Susan E. Green of the Superior Court of Sutter County...... http://huntnewsnu.com/2014/06/letter-need-more-education-on-sikh-religion/
I am a Sikh. My faith -- which stems from India -- is acknowledged as one of the world's major religions (there are 23.8 million Sikhs and only 13.4 million Jews). We stand out because baptized, male Sikhs wear turbans, beards and uncut hair as a sign of their faith. If you see a man on the street with a turban and beard anywhere in the USA, it's almost certain that he is a Sikh.
The tragic events of September 2001, plus the torrent of publicity about Osama Bin Laden, led to enormous difficulties for Sikhs in the USA. On September 15, 2001, one Sikh was shot dead in Phoenix. On Sunday, August 5, 2012, a lone gunman walked into a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and began deliberately shooting at the congregation, killing six and wounding two. These incidents were caused by mistaken identity: mistaking Sikhs for Muslims.
Sikhs are not Muslims and have no relationship with Islam. In fact, as Sikhs, we are enjoined to be tolerant and accepting of all other religions. It is a vital part of who we are.
In 1699 Guru Gobind Singh, the 10th Sikh Guru, gave us a unique form. As part of my identity as a Sikh I am required to keep five symbols of my faith. I keep my hair and beard uncut, I wear a special undergarment, I wear a small wooden comb in my hair and a steel bracelet on my wrist. And I carry a small ceremonial knife, called a kirpan.
The five articles of faith signify my commitment to my faith and to the highest ideals of love and service to humanity. These symbols unify and bind myself and other Sikhs to the beliefs of our religion. They are a daily reminder that we must live an honest, moral, kind, brave and loving life.
It is understandable that most people would characterize the kirpan as a knife or sword. Yet for me, the kirpan is a mandatory article of faith that obligates me to the ideals of generosity, compassion and service to humanity. It acts as a constant reminder to me of my solemn duty to protect the weak and promote justice for all. Like most other Sikhs, I keep my kirpan -- which has a blade length of four inches and is dull -- in a tight sheath suspended at my waist.
Recently I was called for jury duty at Sutter County Superior Court in Yuba City, California. I contacted the court and asked them about my kirpan. They made it very clear that I would not be allowed to enter the courthouse unless I removed it. I explained that it was a duty of faith for me to wear it and that I should be given an exemption on religious grounds.
Because the kirpan is a religious article of faith, Sikhs' right to freely wear their kirpans is consistently protected in the United States. Courts and prosecutors around the country have without exception respected the right of Sikhs to practice their religion by wearing the kirpan. There have been over thirty separate cases where Sikhs were arrested and criminally charged by police officers for carrying a kirpan. Every case has led to a voluntary dismissal of the charges by a prosecutor or, in two instances, dismissal by a court.
Consistent with these cases, multiple U.S. federal entities have granted Sikhs accommodations to wear kirpans in federal buildings. The U.S. Department of Justice's Community Relations Service (CRS) has gone to great lengths to educate law enforcement officials throughout the country about Sikhs and the religious significance of the kirpan.
When I arrived for jury duty, I was not allowed to enter the Sutter County courtroom; thus I did not serve. This was disappointing to me as I value my responsibilities as an American citizen, as much as my rights and privileges.
While the Sikh community in the USA needs to do more to educate the public about who we are, as well as our qualities of loyalty and respect for the countries in which we live, I call upon local authorities everywhere to educate themselves about who the Sikhs are. (You only have to ask – we are always ready to help you understand.) Sikhs in the United States deserve to be free to observe their religious beliefs just as much as anyone else.
Gursant Singh is a practicing Sikh and the author of "Confessions of an American Sikh." http://www.amazon.com/Confessions-American-Sikh-corrupt-tantric-ebook/dp/B00ANSWUPM/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1403915941&sr=8-3&keywords=sikhs