Indo-Canadian MPs denounce ban on Sikh turban on soccer field

Toronto, June 13 (IANS) Three Indo-Canadian members of parliament have denounced the ban on Sikhs from wearing the turban while playing football in the Canadian province of Quebec.

Nina Grewal, the Conservative MP for Fleetwood-Port Kellis, and Jinny Jogindera Sims and Jasbir Sandhu, the New Democratic Party (NDP) MPs for Newton-North Delta and Surrey North, respectively, have voiced their dismay at the Quebec Soccer Federation’s (QSF) decision to maintain the ban on Sikhs wearing the turban while on the field despite a directive from the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) to remove the ban.

All the three MPs are from the province of British Columbia, which has a strong Sikh presence.

The CSA Monday decided to suspend QSF for non-compliance of its June 6 directive.

“Children and their families shouldn’t have to choose between their religion and playing organised sports,” the Vancouver Sun quoted Grewal as saying in a statement.

“I, therefore, hope that the Quebec Soccer Federation amends its stand and lifts the restriction on Sikh soccer players.”

Sims too urged the QSF to reconsider its ban on the turban and its other variants, the ‘patka’ and the ‘keski’.

According to Sims, the patka, a thin piece of cloth worn by young Sikh men and boys that works like a hairnet, isn’t a “safety issue”.

“As a matter of fact, you could argue that wearing the patka provides greater protection because the hair won’t be loose,” she was quoted as saying.

“How could anybody object to that? I go to watch my grandchildren play soccer on Vancouver Island, and I’ve watched many soccer games on the Lower Mainland, and it’s not unusual for children with patkas to be playing. For me it’s as simple as that. Let all our children play soccer.”

Sandhu too was of the same view.

“Adults should find a solution so kids can play. This has gone too far,” he told the Vancouver Sun.

The NDP had written a letter to the international football body FIFA seeking to know why it had, last year, decided to allow women and girls to wear scarves while playing and did not extend the right to Sikh males to wear headgear.

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