26 APR 2011

Sikh Turbans (Airport Searches)

Paul Uppal (Wolverhampton South West) (Con): It is a pleasure to serve under your stewardship, Mr Scott. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Gareth Johnson), who helped me in securing the debate. Protocol dictates that I refer to him as an hon. Friend, but I genuinely feel that I and the Sikh community as a whole have established a deep friendship with him. He is a valuable asset to the debate and to the House.The world seems to be in a challenging season at the moment. There are natural disasters and government instability all over the globe. Security checks have become a way of life, and will be for the foreseeable future. We, as citizens of this challenged world, are tasked with finding the balance between security and freedom. Problems have arisen in the past few months regarding the hand searches of Sikh turbans in airports based on new EU regulations. Under EU regulations, airport security is allowed to insist on a hand search of the turban if the passenger in question either sets off the metal detector or is chosen at random for a search.

As a Sikh, although I do not wear the traditional turban, my father is turbaned and I understand the Sikh community's great distress at the thought of having turbans either publicly hand searched or, in some cases, physically removed. That is seen as deeply disrespectful in the Sikh culture and is perceived in almost all the community as a humiliating breach of personal privacy. The Department for Transport has taken the lead in trying to rectify the situation by establishing a trial that would have airports offering swabs of turbans for explosive residue.

To view the full speech, click on the link: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110426/halltext/110426h0002.htm#1104266000202

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