New Age Islam Edit Desk
27 August 2014
Last month, the international Sikh community and Indians on the whole were shocked at the news of two Indian Sikhs having been told by the International Basketball Association (FIBA) to remove their turban if they wanted to participate in the game. Two Indian Basketball players Amarpal Singh and Amjyot Singh were representing India in the Asia Cup Championship in China.
The racial discrimination perpetrated by the FIBA has caused outrage among the Indian sports fraternity in particular and all the Indians in common. The two Sikh players from India were told to remove their turbans just before the game. FIBA authorities said that wearing turbans violated the rules of the International Basketball Federation.
Flying Sikh, Milkha Singh expressed his dismay over the incident and has condemned the racial policy of the FIBA. He said, “I won so many medals for India while playing across the world, and never have I been asked to remove my turban!”
“My faith and religion have played a big part in my successful career. FIBA’s policies should be more sensitive to people’s faith”, he further said.
He said that Sikh players should be allowed to play with their turban on if they wanted.
Despite the humiliation, the two players played well and defeated China in the game. After the event, a Delhi based businessman Ravinder Pal Singh Kohli started a signature campaign on Change.org against the racial discrimination against Sikhs asking the President of FIBA, Yvan Manini to lift the ban as the ban was racial step. Milkha Singh, Bishen Singh Bedi and Yo Yo Honey Singh joined the campaign asking FIBA to change its policy not only on turbans but on headgears entirely as headgear is a part of religion and culture of many communities all over the world.
As the campaign gathered momentum, to US Congressmen shot off a letter to the President of FIBA asking him to review its policy. Ashok Rangeen, Associate Secretary of Basketball Federation of India said that FIBA was likely to review its ban on turban on 27 August.
The ban on any traditional headgear either in sports or in general is a racial policy which violates the religious, cultural and human rights of people. There is a similar ban on beard in Boxing Championships in Olympics. Such bans do not go with the civilised world and the FIBA will do well to remove the headgear ban as soon as possible.