Monday, August 01, 2011

Rabinder Singh QC becomes England's first Sikh High Court judge

His Grace would like to congratulate Rabinder Singh QC on becoming the first Sikh to be appointed judge in the High Court of Justice. With his skills and specialisms, it is probably only a matter of time before he is appointed to The UK Supreme Court (knowing how it must comply with the diversity legislation bequeathed by Harriet Harman).

His Grace thinks this success story (son of Indian immigrants - grammar school - Cambridge - called to the Bar - QC - High Court) worthy of a brief mention because The Hon Mr Justice Singh will become the first High Court judge not to be required to wear the customary judicial wig. This is probably a sensible move since, rather like Sikhs on motorbikes, a wig over a turban would look as absurd and be as manifestly impractical as a wig over a crash helmet. His Grace is all in favour of religious exemptions on certain grounds.

He can't help wondering, however, how long it will be before the the first burqa-clad judge is appointed in the UK. Having granted special dispensation to the Sikhs on religious attire, it would be an undoubted discrimination to withhold it from Muslims, not least because a burqa would sit very nicely under a wig. If His Grace had the time, he would prepare an illustrative graphic. If any reader or communicant wishes to oblige, His Grace would be happy to post.

UPDATE: 16.38: His Grace is most appreciative of the creative efforts of his communicant Avi Barzel, who is 'on the road with (his) mini lap top which doesn't have Photoshop, so (he) had to remote-control (his) home PC while parked outside a coffeee shop with a wireless, and (his) diesel rig (was) rumbling nicely to keep (him) cool and to continue enriching Mummy Earth with lovely, life-giving CO2 which will not only nourish all growing things, but will also keep keep any ice ages heading our way.' Mr Barzel was last seen somewhere not far from St Luis, USA.

118 Comments:

Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

Now, now.

The issue with the burqa is that it obstructs communication given that 90% of this is non-verbal. As you say, it might look good under a wig. Are there any serving barristers wearing a burqua who might qualify for a Judgeship?

1 August 2011 13:26  
Anonymous Yakoub said...

Following on from Dodo's comment, I presume blind people will be unable to serve as judges, unable as they are to perceive NVC. Or perhaps no one blind could appear in court. Or in society... well, that's where the burka argument is ultimately leading.

1 August 2011 13:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yakoub,

Ridiculous. Blindness is a handicap. The burka can (and should) be taken off. Once that is done, all communications problems are instantly resolved.

What you are saying is that a person who is physically unable to read the expressions of others is the same as a person who willfully makes everyone else blind. The burka is a visual black hole that effects the whole population like it or not. It is an imposition on the whole society.

-Peggy

1 August 2011 13:50  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

A female Muslim judge, Your Grace? Allah’s ruling on the silliness of women and His Prophet’s dismissal of female intelligence make qaḍi-esses unlikely.

2:282 Get two witnesses, out of your own men, and if there are not two men, then a man and two women, such as ye choose, for witnesses, so that if one of them errs, the other can remind her.

Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 6, Number 301. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you.

If the unthinkable did happen, though, the Supreme Court would look something like this.

1 August 2011 13:53  
Anonymous Jack Flash said...

Strewth Johnny, looks like something out of "The Lord of the Rings".


Jack.

1 August 2011 14:18  
Blogger English Viking said...

So he's been in the country for decades but will not accept the centuries old customs and rituals of the profession he chose, but wishes to advertise his foreign religion and be treated differently to every other Judge that has gone before him?

In what way is this integration?

Take it off during work hours, or get another job, preferably in your motherland.

1 August 2011 14:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My name is Mick Stewart and I am the Drum-Major of 2nd Battalion King’s Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB) Pipe Band (reenacted) in Houston, Texas. We are World War Two Historical reenactors honoring the service and sacrifice of all Allied soldiers that served in the Far East Theatre during the Second World War (1939-45). As such, we have formed a Scottish pipe band to help enhance our effort to honor the British and Indian Army and all Indian, Gurkha and Sikh Regiments that served. We would like to extend an open invitation to Sikhs in Houston, Texas (or the U.S.) who are bagpipers or drummers to join our group! Sikhs served proudly in the British Army during the Second World War. We would like to educate Texans when we perform about the service of Sikh soldiers in the Burma Theatre and why they helped secure a lasting peace in the Far East with the defeat of the Japanese Empire in 1945. Little is known of the gallant Sikh Regiment that served in the Middle East (fighting Rommel and the Afrika Korps) or the Sikh Regiments that served in the various Indian Divisions fighting the Japanese. My email address is: MichaelWStewart@yahoo.com. All Sikhs who wish to play with our group may contact us at that email address. We would like to come out and speak to any Sikh group that would enjoy hosting us. Fourth, we wish to tell the story of the BRAVE INDIANS, Sikhs, Punjabs, etc. who served in the British Indian Army during the Second World War! Your story has not been told. The bravery of Sikh’s has yet to be given its rightful place in history. We hope that our new reenacting group will honor the brave Sikh’s who, to this day, lie buried on hillsides in Burma where they fell fighting the Japanese, 1939-45. Michael W. “Mick” Stewart Director, The Forgotten Front WWII Assocation Scottish and Sikh Army Pipe Band Houston Texas Our current pipe band meets in Houston, Texas at a local business on Friday evenings at 7:30 p.m. for band practice. We offer free bagpipe and drum lessons.

1 August 2011 15:36  
Blogger john in cheshire said...

The only positive thing I can think of is at least he's not a muslim. The photograph, Jonny, is like a convention of fans of cousin It from the Addams Family.
Also, is it possible for a defendant to ask for his case to be heard by someone who isn't, or at least doesn't dress, ethnic?

1 August 2011 15:37  
Blogger Albert said...

Take it off during work hours, or get another job

That does seem to be the logic of many secular assertions, both in court and out of court: leave your religion at home and behave like a good secularist in public.

It's good news Rabinder Sing has been appointed. Since he has been granted this dispensation, he will presumably try to bring some sense into our courts and restore some religious freedom. He'll look a bit odd if he doesn't.

Good luck!

1 August 2011 15:44  
Blogger Albert said...

Apologies, that should have read "Singh"

1 August 2011 15:45  
Blogger Gnostic said...

Wig or turban, it makes no difference. It is the calibre and integrity of the man beneath it that matters.

I wish Mr Justice Singh well.

1 August 2011 15:49  
Blogger English Viking said...

Albert,

Don't be daft, it's a one-way street.

Imagine if a Judge were to wear a cross, or one of those dreadful fish things.

All animals are equal; some animals are more equal than others.

Gnostic,

Your comment is correct. Therefore we should avoid employing persons in positions of great power and authority who believe that wearing special underpants is part of their ticket to heaven, don't you think?

BTW, Will he be permitted to wear his offensive weapon in Court, do you think?

1 August 2011 16:17  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Why not a turban made from the same material as a wig??? I mean, a little imagination please!

1 August 2011 16:21  
Blogger The Minister for Public Enlightenment said...

If the terrorist threat level is at substantial or higher all persons in voluminous attire will be subjected to a full body scan. To guard against the possibility of impersonation, voice recognition technology will be employed to ensure that the identity of Her Honour is established beyond reasonable doubt. Any persons who refuse to stand in Her Honour's presence because of her gender or religion will be in contempt of Court, except male co-religionists who are exempt from this provision for reasons of conscience.

1 August 2011 16:28  
Blogger Albert said...

Viking,

Don't be daft, it's a one-way street.

I think you are slightly missing the point Viking. This one places a certain kind of secularist in a sticky position. If he says Mr Singh must take off his turban, he effectively excludes all Khalsa Sikhs from such high positions in law and society, thereby creating religious inequality. If on the other hand he allows him to keep his turban, he has accepted a religious observance in a public place - even if it is contrary to normal dress-codes.

Let us then suppose the question of BA staff wearing crosses comes before his court: can you really imagine Mr Singh saying the cross must be removed?

Bravo Mr Singh - he represents anyone who believes in freedom of expression. It's such a pity some of his colleagues do not.

1 August 2011 16:46  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Add to Avi's portrayal, the 'black cloth', should we ever return to 'hanging', and we've got the full-fig!

Why not wear a 'Darth Vader' mask and be done with it! :o)

1 August 2011 16:52  
Anonymous Darth Vader said...

@Oswin, I shall wear my mask as I please my young apprentice of the sith...

1 August 2011 16:58  
Anonymous Mark Lovejoy said...

So your grace, following this religious concession,does this mean that a QC who followed the teachings of the newly formed Church of naturalism would be allowed to go to court utterly starkers, but including a wig? (as per Chapter 5 vs 9 of the holy scripture of nudism- written over a bottle of wine during a visit to East Cheam)

1 August 2011 17:06  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Did he come from the Sindh?

All Judges in the know visit Madame Sindh, just wait, when she finds out he left with one of her her nappies, he will be in for a spanking.

Naughty Boy!

1 August 2011 17:25  
Blogger English Viking said...

Albert,

You've got it upside down.

Khalsa Sikhs exclude themselves, in much the same way criminals do; they choose to do so.

1 August 2011 17:32  
Anonymous Office of Inspector General said...

Your Grace

An interesting pairing. One the garb of a racist, fascist way off life and the other a central pillar of western civilisation.

In all seriousness, justice must be done, be seen to be done, and the Inspector General would add, the dispenser of justice must be seen too....

1 August 2011 18:24  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

A difficult area, it has to be said because no option is particularly desirable. I'd rather all such things were left at home myself. But by insisting on that, it excludes a section of society from certain jobs where we might want representation, such as in the police force or in social services.

The thing about turbans and motorcycle helmets is slightly different because helmets, like seatbelts, really ought to be by choice of the individual. It's paternalism, mostly, offset a little bit but not convincingly by shared medical costs. The debate at the time focused on social exclusion again, I think.

So, does giving companies the right to determine whether someone wears a visible cross, or a burqa, or a sari, or a colander hat at work socially exclude? Nah, it doesn't does it? And a headscarf is probably on the border line.

The general direction ought to be that religion is a private thing and not something to be brought into the workplace. Then we make exceptions if the balance of the arguments are strong enough in favour of an exception. In that way, sikhs must give up proper daggers and swords in favour of token versions in most places because the argument about dangerous weapons is too strong.

1 August 2011 18:33  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Actually, on second thoughts: no. Let's allow anything religious apart from crosses, bibles, and woolly jumpers, and sandals. That way, the Christian Institute can play its victim card again and again and again until it finally gets to the Supreme Court. And the Daily Fail has a guaranteed weekly story to run if it wants. :)

1 August 2011 18:40  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Your Grace

Have just viewed Mr Rottenborogh's picture - Could only see children of a lesser god...

1 August 2011 19:06  
Anonymous Shacklefree said...

Regardless of the dress code it is interesting to reflect on judges being from different cultures. As stated earlier a Sikh judge with a turban would be unlikely to prosecute a Christian for wearing a cross but what about Muslim judges. The concept of Sharia law and the way a Muslim man is like a dictator in his own house, raises questions about how suitable they can be for such a post. This may seem discriminatory but I think in the light of current events the onus should be on them to prove differently because in general they do not accept the standards of our society. They run parallel societies. Under Sharia law judges have been known to sentence the victims of rape to 200 lashes because the rape in itself proved that she had sexual relations outside of marriage. That said there was a case some years ago in America where a couple who had written and advertised a book about making money were prosecuted because they used actors in their promotional film and the actors were obviously making claims about the amount of money they made which weren’t true. However, the couple refunded the cost of the book to everyone who wanted their money back. Using actors is fairly common in advertising but they were sentenced to 23 years imprisonment so I think there is a lot to question about the American legal system and we should be very reluctant to extradite people from here to the US because the sentences are very often hugely disproportionate.

1 August 2011 19:44  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Albert @ 16:46 - can you really imagine Mr Singh saying the cross must be removed? I can certainly imagine many of his compatriots doing exactly that. However, not knowing this gentleman, I couldn't say.

1 August 2011 19:48  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Shacklefree

The UK can learn a lot from US sentancing, not every time, but most...

1 August 2011 19:50  
Anonymous non mouse said...

Oswin @ 16:21 --- brilliant, thank you!

1 August 2011 19:54  
Blogger Albert said...

Viking,

Khalsa Sikhs exclude themselves

So if there's a law that says people who believe in democracy cannot be judges, would you say that that law isn't excluding? Democrats exclude themselves?

Dan,

The general direction ought to be that religion is a private thing and not something to be brought into the workplace.

What are your grounds for saying that?

Non mouse,

I can certainly imagine many of his compatriots doing exactly that.

Perhaps, but one assumes that as Mr Singh is taking his position in a British court he is submitting to British laws - laws which he necessarily thinks allow him to wear a turban even though it against the established dress-code.

I rather like this example, because it shows up so many absurdities of recent secularism. Logically, on the grounds that "religion is a private thing that should stay out of the work-place", it would seem that Mr Singh should leave his turban at home. But the fact is that this country has been far more enlightened than that for centuries. Sikhs have long served in the British Army proudly wearing their turbans. We were happy for them to do that when they were defending and dying for our interests. Only now does the question arise, because some secularists seem to have problems with religious freedom.

A free society should have problems with such secularists (they can have such views in private of course, but they shouldn't bring them into the public sphere :-) )

1 August 2011 20:02  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

I think this is outrageous. If Mr Singh wants to be part of Britain's public life he should have to adapt to our ways. There is nothing more special and beautiful than the glorious uniforms of the judiciary. Why can't he adapt and wear something like a skull cap to cover is head under the wig?
He should be rejected. He's not a British judge until he wears full dress and that includes the wig NOT the turban

1 August 2011 20:04  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Marie1797, you're a fiesty dame, and you're right...

1 August 2011 20:13  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Shacklefree: "The concept of Sharia law and the way a Muslim man is like a dictator in his own house, raises questions about how suitable they can be for such a post."

On that basis, perhaps we should only be judged by one of our own. In an atheist's case, a grounded, rational person. In a Christian's case, a Christian. And so on. Afterall, who knows what religious agenda a Christian might bring to the bench too?

1 August 2011 20:16  
Blogger Albert said...

Marie,

Why can't he adapt and wear something like a skull cap to cover is head under the wig?

The turban itself is not the religious symbol as far as I know. It's the uncut hair. How will wearing a "skull cap to cover his head under the wig" help?

Perhaps Avi Barzel could be asked to come up with a picture of a judge with his wig perched on top of of a skull cap, perched on top of rather a lot of hair.

As I have pointed out, it is perfectly British to allow Sikhs to wear turbans.

1 August 2011 20:16  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Of course, if the religious have completely free rein to choose their garb in the workplace and in public spaces then I suppose we ought to expect to see Sikhs carrying proper swords and daggers on planes. That'll be fun.

1 August 2011 20:20  
Anonymous Avi Barzel said...

Your Grace,

What delight to at last see my photoshopped image in your blog while stopping for a quick and frugal repast of home cooked kosher victuals under the eaves of an unsecured WiFi-furnished establishment! Thank you for the honour of displaying my meager contribution, Your Grace. I wish my first entry had been of a better quality, but the trumpets of urgent duty blared and we must heroically answer the alarum with the tools and the time we have been blessed with.

And, thank you again Your Grace, this time for the real honour of naming me as one of your many communicants, an honourable title indeed. Alas, if you’ll forgive the appearance of churlish ingratitude on my part, Your Grace, the title seems a little too, er, Christian-flavoured for my particular condition. I am, after all, but a humble Abrahamic stranger far from the shores of his personal comfort zones and his plush teddy. A dusty wanderer and a warmly welcomed guest at hearth of your court (so far, so good)...hence, more akin to a journeying courtier. Hmm, there, if you please Your Grace; a visiting courtier. A title of lesser status, to be sure (and one easily confused with that of the hofjude, if indelicately translated), but one with a certain romantic flash and an ego-gratifying flair.

For the record, Your Grace, Muslim or Hindu head covers, kippas, turbans, fezes, sheytls/wigs and yes, even the recently-permitted colanders are all fine by me as they are by you. And not just for the obvious reason that I’m accustomed to go about strutting with one of my fine kippas, at times inadvisably, such as when seeking amenities at a Hells Angels-favoured truck lot in Tennessee, or even worse, when visiting Europe. But the burqa, I would insist, Your Grace, is quite a different animal as it were. In fully obscuring the wearer’s face, it provides anonymity to members of only one religion and one gender. A regular chap can’t cover up and go about his business easily in public yet, but how long until a gender equity or a cross-dresser case puts an end to that taboo of ours? Will we all eventually walk the streets with bird-head masks, Renaissance ball style, or maybe even high-tech and authentic replicas of celebrities’ faces? Maybe that’s fine, all things being equal as they say, but sooner or later we’ll have to resolve whether something we rarely think about, the custom of public facial exposure by all, is an important part of our cultural ethos, or yet another relativistic idiosyncrasy we can jettison.

1 August 2011 20:23  
Blogger Albert said...

Avi,

I’m accustomed to go about strutting with one of my fine kippas

Good for you. It raises the question of whether we have had any Jews in the position Mr Singh now occupies, and whether they were allowed to wear a kippa (not a perfect analogy, but interesting nevertheless).

Would anyone who has expressed doubts about the turban on this blog have doubts about a Jewish judge wearing his kippa instead of a wig?

1 August 2011 20:30  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

No, I thought it was the covering of the head that was sacred not the amount of hair a siki has.
It's about covering the head to protect.

And NO it is NOT British to allow siki's to wear turbans at all.

1 August 2011 20:36  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"No, I thought it was the covering of the head that was sacred not the amount of hair a siki has."

It's both as far as I know: unshorn hair, and covered with a turban.

1 August 2011 20:40  
Blogger Albert said...

Marie,

And NO it is NOT British to allow siki's [sic] to wear turbans at all.

What, not even in the Gurdwara, or down the market? And who's determining all this - what it is to be British, what ought to be left at home etc.?

How about this fellow, who, fighting in North Africa has done his bit to defend British interests against the Nazis?

http://www.defenceimagedatabase.mod.uk/fotoweb/wewerethere/ww2/images/flag_lg.jpg

or these gentlemen, doing something similar:

http://www.defenceimagedatabase.mod.uk/fotoweb/wewerethere/ww2/images/sher_crew_lg.jpg

Why shouldn't they wear turbans in British courts? They played their part in ensuring there are British courts - and we didn't worry about their turbans then.

1 August 2011 21:03  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

@ Albert
Yes anything to protect the head that belongs to fremd religions should be hidden under the wig.
@ danj0 they have to cover the crown of their heads to protect from evil or some such crap.
They can just as well wear what the jews wear they do not need to wear a bulky turban at all.

1 August 2011 21:05  
Anonymous Shacklefree said...

Danjo I was just raising the point that Muslims deliberately live in parallel societies and exclude us from that and want to change the law to Sharia. We don't have problems that way from Jews or Sikhs or Buddhists. They have their beliefs and all of us agree amicably to differ. We have seen Muslims being trained to be police officers in Afghanistan and then turning around and shooting the people who were training them. Mohammed taught that is was OK to lie and cheat against an infidel so in the case of judges, all the time we would wonder what is their real agenda. We also have a problem with secularists however who want to exclude us from the public domain.

1 August 2011 21:06  
Blogger Albert said...

Marie,

What is the definition of a "fremd religion" as you call it? And why are expressions of fremd religion to be prohibited?

they do not need to wear a bulky turban at all

I cannot comment on whether Sikhs need to cover the head to protect from evil - I would leave that to a Sikh, but even if we grant that Sikhs shouldn't wear a turban, there is still the question of what happens to their hair? (And why anyone - beyond the man himself - actually cares how he covers his head?)

1 August 2011 21:20  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

By fremd I mean outside or alien religions. And because we have to remain true to our own religion and customs otherwise anything and everything goes and eventually what we have gets watered down so much it disappears altogether. I am all for conserving what we have built up over centuries and serves us well. A judge is NOT a judge unless he wears the wig. A policeman has to wear the helmet to arrest a person and a judge has to wear the wig to judge and issue the punishments not the turban.

1 August 2011 21:45  
Blogger Albert said...

Marie,

I know what "Fremd" means - I was wondering if you would define how you decide which category to put each religion in.

It appears you want to allow Judaism. You clearly don't want to allow Christianity, for the NT says:

Does not nature itself teach you that for a man to wear long hair is degrading to him (1 Cor 11). This clearly rules out male judges wearing wigs. But it's probably okay for Jews as the example of Samson indicates.

And because we have to remain true to our own religion and customs otherwise anything and everything goes and eventually what we have gets watered down so much it disappears altogether

There's not much left of our own religion and customs if they are threatened by Sikh judges not wearing wigs.

A policeman has to wear the helmet to arrest a person

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/5153594/Police-should-arrest-fewer-criminals-says-police-authority-boss.html

1 August 2011 22:00  
Anonymous T Atwal said...

Viking,

About Mr. Singh getting a job in his own motherland - the British annexed the Sikh Empire in 1848 (at it's hight, it extended from Kabul to Delhi and included Kashmir). In 1947 Britain granted the Indian sub-continent independence, creating India and Pakistan but NO MOTHERLAND for the Sikhs! Sikhs remained loyal to the British crown, even under their rule. Khalsa Sikhs believe in the oneness of the entire human race.

P.S. Despite my love of bearded, long haired weapon bearing vikings, may I respectfully suggest a less "foreign" Scandinavian handle for YOU - perhaps something more truly British / Celtic in origin?


Marie 1797

"they have to cover the crown of their heads to protect from evil or some such crap.
They can just as well wear what the jews wear they do not need to wear a bulky turban at all."


I'm afraid that is exactly what you said it is - utter crap. It amuses me that people make statements about things they know very little about. Sikhs ARE required to wear a "dastaar" (turban). After the Islamic Turko Mughals invaded India, only native royals and Mughals were permitted to wear a dastaar. Guru Gobind Singh defiantly made the dastaar part of the Khalsa uniform to make his Sikhs instantly recognisable. They wear a particular style of turban called a "Dhumalla". This was outlawed by the British shortly after they conquered the Sikh Empire and replaced with a more "civillian" version worn by most Sikhs in Britain (and by Mr. Singh in the image).

Peace & love...

1 August 2011 22:13  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

Avi said ...
"... we’ll have to resolve whether something we rarely think about, the custom of public facial exposure by all, is an important part of our cultural ethos, or yet another relativistic idiosyncrasy we can jettison."

Now that would be a provokative comment to make if you were adressing a Muslim audience.

Calling the burqua a "relativistic idiosyncrasy" is bad form old bean. You will know it is no such thing in the mind of a Muslim. Like it or not, it is a part of Muslim religious tradition. It has also assumed the status of symbol of religious freedom versus integration.

Yes, we need to discuss if it is acceptable in our society to cover your face. But a "relativistic idiosynracy"? I think not.

Now, an example. Just say America decided ritual circumscision, where there was no immediate medical need, was a criminal act of abuse against a child. (I'm not suggesting I agree with this) How would you and Judaism react? And, what if the sacred sign of the Covenant between God and your people, as you see it, was labelled a "relativistic idiosyncracy"?

I think our own religious prejudices have a way of surfacing in these debates - Christian, Muslim and Jew.

1 August 2011 22:38  
Blogger Gnostic said...

English Viking, what type of trollies the gentleman wears is up to him. I would imagine that he will not be permitted to carry a knife into court even if he is the judge. And even if it was permitted, do you honestly expect him to use it on the first nasty little scrote that gives him a crapload of obscene lip?

Actually that's not a bad idea...

1 August 2011 22:39  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

No not at all. Those wigs as I understand are horse hair not human hair or the man's own hair. Of course we now have police officers instead of policemen and an arrest all policy instead of a prevention is better than cure environment, but I wonder at how the police cope as they have to deal with so many different cultures and religions that there is no time for the policeman approach, if in doubt arrest all does seem to be the motto of today, it is wrong but how else can they cope with such overcrowding in cities and towns.

1 August 2011 23:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Avi Barzel said ...
"I’m accustomed to go about strutting with one of my fine kippas, at times inadvisably, such as when seeking amenities at a Hells Angels-favoured truck lot in Tennessee, OR EVEN WORSE, (my emphasis) when visiting Europe."

Please elaborate?

1 August 2011 23:12  
Anonymous Tanfield said...

Your Grace,
In his posting @ 20.30 Albert asked whether there had ever been any Jewish High Court Judges. Yes there have been and in the last 100years 2 Lord Chief Justices. The most recent was Lord Taylor of Gosforth who only died about 10-15 years ago. I'm not aware however that any Jewish High Court Judge ever dispensed with wearing a wig though

1 August 2011 23:44  
Anonymous judith said...

The custom of Jewish men covering their heads at all times is just that - a custom acquired during the Diaspora, it isn't a religious requirement.

And the widespread donning of the burqua is also a custom that has only become practice relatively recently - and it also is not a religious requirement in my understanding.

To me, all this special clothing, or wearing of crosses and cutting/not cutting hair and physical mutilation, no matter what the religion, is pathetically sad and pretty childish.

2 August 2011 00:11  
Blogger English Viking said...

Albert, 20:02,

I'd be most grateful if you could confine your ramblings to the English language.

I really have no idea what you were trying to say, even though I consider myself adept at the English tongue.

2 August 2011 00:26  
Blogger English Viking said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2 August 2011 00:32  
Anonymous Michal said...

I wonder how much profits the oil sheiks in middle east made out of the oil used to power the generator, which was in turn used by mr. Avi to create the picture. The irony here is profound.

2 August 2011 01:42  
Anonymous Oswin said...

No it isn't.

2 August 2011 01:45  
Anonymous Oswin said...

T Atwal @ 22:13:

Come now, 'Viking' and Scandinavian ''handles'' are hardly ''foreign'' to us Brits.

If I may remind you of your own words:

''It amuses me that people make statements about things that they know very little about''

2 August 2011 02:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with English Viking.
If they like their religion so much to the extent that it is infiltrating the High Court of Justice, they should go back to their little east, little asia or little middle east. Whatever religious view a judge may have, it should be left at home and not bring it to the court.
Justice have nothing to do with religion and religions should not influence any court decision. Therefore religious symbols of any kind would be out of place in any Court. It is also inconsiderate and unreasonable for people to bring their extreme religion or religious symbol attire to the High Court.
WLIL

2 August 2011 02:09  
Blogger greenalien said...

@ Oswin

Oh yes it is. Mr. Avi seems to be very intent on making a statement about how ecology is a fool's errand, utterly impractical and self absorbed with no relation to reality. Pfft, mummy earth? Give me a break! Eat on that CO2 hippies!

Meanwhile the money used to buy diesel for that generator will probably be later on used to build more mosques and spread radical islamism, like the kind mr. Avi fights against.

2 August 2011 02:36  
Anonymous Shacklefree said...

There seems to be a confusion between religion and culture in this debate. Marie 1797 said “we have to remain true to our own religion and customs … A judge is NOT a judge unless he wears the wig”. I don’t think judges were wearing wigs in Jesus time – Wikipedia says that they came into use in the 16th century so it would appear to an invention of the Protestant Reformation and therefore a religious symbol in its own right. English Viking is very cultural in his religion and said “Piss off back to India, if you like it's religions and dress so much.”
Also it seems some people are using culture to develop the secularist agenda. Anonymous said “Justice have nothing to do with religion and religions should not influence any court decision. Therefore religious symbols of any kind would be out of place in any Court. It is also inconsiderate and unreasonable for people to bring their extreme religion or religious symbol attire to the High Court. Judith said “To me, all this special clothing, or wearing of crosses and cutting/not cutting hair and physical mutilation, no matter what the religion, is pathetically sad and pretty childish”
If justice had nothing to do with religion, then you would not today be benefitting by living in a society whose standards of fairness and are based on 2000 years of Christianity. Yes there have been examples of excesses but they are the exceptions which prove the rule and none of them could be attributed to the teaching of Christ but more easily to a cultural Christianity. The standards of our society today were not established by secularism and we see from recent developments how secularism and humanism are attempting to deny to others the freedoms they insist upon for themselves. How else can we view comments advocating the removal of all signs of Christianity from the public place? The wearing of a turban does not in itself suggest that a judge has a subversive agenda. Sikhs live very peaceably in our society and are not trying to set up parallel Caliphates which is why I would ban the burqa and veil (not the headscarf) from public places. Not only are these two particular symbols, badges of allegiance, they also disdain the people of other faiths among whom they live as an inferior species.

2 August 2011 04:48  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Test again

2 August 2011 06:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The standard of most our world nonreligious justice system evolved from the western european civilisation and from the academic study from the european/western higher learning and not from any religion. Anyway, the wig is an English cultural symbol and nothing to do with any religion. Not everyone have a religion and therefore religion of any kind should not imposed any of their backward religious law on our western justice system, that is for all regardless of whatever faiths or nonfaith. Furthermore, our western justice system should not be influenced by any irrationally harsh or brutal religious law such as sharia which most probably originated from their harsh and brutal predominant black world. If those islamic religious people wish to have their own backward sharia law in their own sharialand, it is up to them but it should not be imposed on us nonbelievers. Sharia is one of the excesses of an extremist backward religion and therefore it should have no place in any modern western society.
WLIL

2 August 2011 07:39  
Blogger Albert said...

I find this whole discussion truly amazing. We often hear the complaint that Muslims don't integrate. Here is a man who wishes to uphold British Law. British Law, not Shariah, not something from Sikh Scriptures, not the Torah, not Catholic Canon Law, but British Law.

How much more integrated can you get?

Yet, as a Sikh, he wears a turban - an entirely usual custom within British history, not least when fighting for this country. This prevents him from wearing the customary wig in court (or if he did wear it, it would look ridiculous and entirely out of keeping with dignity of his office).

Is the idea of the secularists on this blog that wearing a wig confers some magical power that ensures he can administer justice? That without his magic wig, he will wickedly subvert British Law? Is not the insistence of a wig to the point that a whole part of our society is excluded "pathetically sad and pretty childish" to quote from Judith?

Anonymous @7.39
The standard of most our world nonreligious justice system evolved from the western european civilisation and from the academic study from the european/western higher learning and not from any religion. Anyway, the wig is an English cultural symbol and nothing to do with any religion.

You really think modernity made itself, don't you?

Not everyone have a religion and therefore religion of any kind should not imposed

Yes, and not everyone is a secularist, and so secularism should not be imposed.

2 August 2011 08:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why should anyone be called secularist just because he or she does not agree with any religious interference in our modern western justice system? Anyway, as far as I know, secularist are not imposing anything though they may criticised certain religious policies or partial to certain religion. I think there are alot of weakness in secularism too just as there are alot of weakness with multiculturalism. And, at the end of the day, people have to decide whether religious related attire is acceptable or not in the High Court.
WLIL

2 August 2011 09:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If one think that sikh have the right to wear their sikh turban in an English High Court, then other people with their various other religious related attire also would demand the same and that is another problem that people living a multicultural environment would have to solve or cope with it. What about people who would be uncomfortable with certain judge displaying their religious symbol handing out judgement?
WLIL

2 August 2011 09:50  
Blogger Albert said...

WLIL

Why should anyone be called secularist just because he or she does not agree with any religious interference in our modern western justice system?

I would have thought that was a perfect definition of a secularist - a kind of secularism, btw that I agree with (with some clarifications).

Why is wearing a turban and not a wig an example of religion interfering in the justice system? Is British justice so frail that it is reducible to the wearing of a wig? How then has the wig been abandoned in many court cases?

The issues here are:

(i) Is a wig necessary to the implementation of justice?
(ii) Is there any evidence that Mr Singh's religion has resulted in egregrious judgments in the past?

If the answer to those questions is no - then what is the issue from a secular point of view? (except for the fact that a certain kind of secularist takes offense at public expressions of religion and demands that he be pandered to - even to the point of denying freedom to others).

If one think that sikh have the right to wear their sikh turban in an English High Court, then other people with their various other religious related attire also would demand the same

We've been through this. It seems to me to come down to whether the religious attire interferes with justice. If the whole body is covered then this prevents the judge being seen - for all we know he is a terrorist and not the judge at all. If he is a "holy nudism" Adamite, then his nudity will similarly prevent the proper running of the court. If the turban has similar effects it should be banned.

But it shouldn't be banned just because thin-skinned people don't like it.

2 August 2011 10:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point here is not about banning the turban. The point here preventing any type of religious extremism in the High Court that is meant to be upholding justice for everyone regardless whether they belong to a religion or not.

WLIL

2 August 2011 11:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And another thing is whether people like the turban, burka or any other religious symbol or not, people have a right to debate about it and nothing to do with the colour of their skin or how thick or how think their skin is.

WLIL

2 August 2011 11:15  
Blogger Albert said...

Anon,

The point here preventing any type of religious extremism in the High Court that is meant to be upholding justice for everyone regardless whether they belong to a religion or not.

So Sikhism is automatically a form of religious extremism? Even when it is upholding British Law? Or is it your view that any public expression of religion is an example of religious extremism? That seems to me to be an example of secular extremism to me.

He is not imposing his religion on anyone - he is the one in the turban, he doesn't require anyone else to be so dressed.

people have a right to debate about it

I agree and I defend the right of anyone to express the view that Sikhs should not wear turbans in court. But having the right to debate about it is not the same as having the right to impose one's will.

2 August 2011 11:32  
Anonymous Avi Barzel said...

Mr Albert,

As to your question, being a bewigged judge would be no problem; the wig should do the job of the kippa. Jewish law and custom demands that a man’s head must be covered, but it doesn’t have to be a kippa. Many of us wear a kippa, as opposed to just a hat, mainly to maintain a tradition, to let other “incognito” Jews know who we are, as a question of pride in one's culture and as a visible reminder of our covenant with the Almighty. I wear mine because I can. Some of the lawyer guys in my congregation will never wear a kippa when in court, while others will. Go figure.

Here, in Canada we've had our turban kerfaffle as well. The cost of dropping or watering down our British traditions is that the Sikh turban was not defended as an already established and honoured privilege in the Empire, but as a multi-culti act of niceness. No matter, we now do have quite a few bearded and turbaned Sikh police officers, a very dignified and appropriate look, I happen to think.

2 August 2011 11:55  
Anonymous Avi Barzel said...

Mr Dodo,

So many comments and questions!

First, you say: Calling the burqua a "relativistic idiosyncrasy" is bad form old bean. You will know it is no such thing in the mind of a Muslim. Like it or not, it is a part of Muslim religious tradition. It has also assumed the status of symbol of religious freedom versus integration.

“Old bean!” An echo from the past. Such expressions,” Britishisms,” all but disappeared here in Canada over the last twenty years, gone with the fish and chips restaurants at every corner. Pity, we’re now condemned to a CNN and Hollywood-homogenized English occasionally enriched with Spanglish, L.A. gansta talk and Valley Girl speak. So, yo-yo-yo, Dodo-dudster, I couldn’t, like, agree more with you, as that is not what I meant at all; I meant to say that our current Western custom of keeping our faces exposed at all times, might one day be thrown or legislated away as another old “relativistic idiosyncrasy.” Again, my issue is not the garb and who wears it, but hiding one's face, which I think should be a no-no in our society, whatever the reason. Not your fault, I expressed myself poorly then...and possibly still am.

Secondly, on the question of the brit milah, the sign of our Covenant, the circumcision; a proposed prohibition, on a municipal level, cropped up recently in San Francisco, actually. A California judge struck down the proposal on constitutional grounds, but eventually the issue will wind its way to the US Supreme Court. If it were to be banned, and I were to have a son...two unlikely occurrences in my lifetime...I hope that I would have the guts to violate such a law without a second thought, and with an expression of contempt, and then to gracefully accept the judicial penalties. Thousands of Jewish parents faced much harsher consequences under Nazi occupation, in the Soviet Union and at various other times in history.

Thirdly, as for your question way back when, about whether we Jews deem Patriarch Avraham’s selection to have been based on his meritorious conduct, I have frankly not considered an alternative. But then again, I am a bit of an odd-ball among my kind, so don’t take my musings as wisdom from Sinai. However, many of our prayers include the plea of “May we merit...” a give-away, now that I think of it. I’ll further argue that a major premise in Judaism is that we are made in the image of G-d, with free will being one of the corner stones, and the understanding that our free-willed and active performance of the commandments elevates us as partners with G-d in the ongoing creation of the universe. Should one wish to accept the mission, I suppose. But that’s just my thoughts, Mr Dodo, you’d do better to google the issue, or if the question is of personal or theological importance to you, to seek a clarification within your church.

2 August 2011 12:15  
Blogger Albert said...

Thank you Avi for your clarification.

2 August 2011 12:23  
Anonymous Avi Barzel said...

Michal said, I wonder how much profits the oil sheiks in middle east made out of the oil used to power the generator, which was in turn used by mr. Avi to create the picture. The irony here is profound."

Mr Oswin's reply, "no it isn't" covers it nicely, so I'll just add that most of the fuel in these parts is from Canadian and Alaskan oil. Not that I care; the oil producing nations need at least one reason to somehow justify their existence.

Then, as a reply to Mr Oswin, Mr Greenalien says, "Oh yes it is (i.e., profound). Mr. Avi seems to be very intent on making a statement about how ecology is a fool's errand, utterly impractical and self absorbed with no relation to reality. Pfft, mummy earth? Give me a break! Eat on that CO2 hippies! Meanwhile the money used to buy diesel for that generator will probably be later on used to build more mosques and spread radical islamism, like the kind mr. Avi fights against."

Actually, Mr Greenalien, my comment had to do with the Global Warming/Climate Change scam, which is quite different from legitimate environmental or ecological concerns. You're not really calling CO2 a pollutant, are you? All the pretty flowers and other growing things that do so much better with more of it would hate you.

But naah, I was kidding about the diesel. Nasty stuff that; builds mosques and makes jihadis (what's this, the latest lame eco-weenie attempt to "reach out" to conservatives?). In truth, I run my 18-wheeler off my calculator solar panel, I stay cool or warm in my sleeper cabin through the power of meditation, and all that yummy food we carry for you and yours to gobble up is plucked in an environmentally sustainable way and flown gently to your market on the recyclable wings of pretty fairies.

2 August 2011 12:53  
Blogger English Viking said...

Mr T Atwal,

I'm not a Celt, I'm an Anglo-Saxon. BTW did you know your name is an anagram of ... never mind.

Your Grace,

No fair! Actually, it probably is, even though it's a biblical word.

2 August 2011 14:13  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

To Albert 21:03 1st August 11

Just because someone defended us at a time of war does not justify that we allow their culture to usurp that very culture he co-defended during a war. He obviously loves it so much that he came to live in our country then he should do his best to uphold our culture rather than insist on his own taking precedence. But as you said we now don't have much religion & culture left to uphold otherwise he would not insist on the dominance of his own or maybe living here in this mish mash he does not want his own to fizzle out and become usurped by that of a certain one from Islam?

I think the man and woman on the street can wear what they like as long as it does not cover the face and that would include people in business who have public facing roles , but all those who work in the public sector should have to abide by the Christian religion of our country and what is left of our countries' rules and regulations so therefore in this case the wig takes precedence over the turban.

T Atwal 22:13 1st Aug 11
Then why can't the British outlaw the wearing of this type of turban to one that can fit under the wig in our own country? And that the man maintain his hair length to fit accordingly?

2 August 2011 14:28  
Blogger Albert said...

Marie,

Just because someone defended us at a time of war does not justify that we allow their culture to usurp that very culture he co-defended during a war.

Two points if I may:
(i) Part of what Britain was fighting for was freedom.
(ii) The wearing of a turban is an established British custom - it was acceptable to us then when Sikhs were defending British Law, why is it not acceptable when Mr Singh is defending British Law now?

But as you said we now don't have much religion & culture left to uphold

Yes, and we will have even less if we refuse to extend the same freedoms to others which we expect for ourselves.

2 August 2011 14:54  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

The Turban is not a British symbol at all and one cannot have total freedom when one has to share anything with anyone else be it a house or a town or a country. There has to be a common set of rules to follow otherwise you have anarchy and all wanting to do what they please which then takes the form of the most dominant.

Can't you not see Albert that by allowing one foreign man the freedom to display signs in whatever form from his culture and religion whilst employed by the British state only helps to water down what we have left of our own religion and culture and makes it more acceptable for other foreigners to demand the same. It fuels the death of anything that was British. Aren't the courts still Christian? Don't people swear on the BIBLE? Oh no! of course not Abdula, Mohemmed and the like can now swear on the Quran. We are allowing our way of life sink. I hate what we are becoming. It won't be long then until Sharia takes over then Mr Singh will definitely not be able to wear his turban at all never mind just in his place of work. Why can't Mr Singh adapt and wear the wig? Why does he have to be different?

I know the wig was popularised by King Charles the II 1660 and they protected from getting head lice at the time but they are a symbol of status I would think in judicial and governmental environments. And they are also with the dress a symbol for the public of law and order being upheld in this country.

2 August 2011 15:54  
Blogger Albert said...

There are three problems here I think. Firstly, you seem to be conflating Christianity and Britishness, which is idolatry in Christian terms and thus not Christian. Secondly, what constitutes Britishness and who decides? Thirdly, I am still unclear how it was that Christianity and Judaism came to be British. They were both foreign once and on your terms should never have been tolerated.

I didn't say that a Turban was a British symbol, I said it was an established British custom - to allow it in other words. If Britishness includes generosity, then your position, tightening up the generosity of previous custom is unBritish. So this "British" concept is just not as clear as you need it to be, I think, and thus not as clearly prohibiting his turban.

one cannot have total freedom when one has to share anything with anyone else be it a house or a town or a country

He isn't after total freedom. He wants to impose British Law.

Aren't the courts still Christian?

What do you mean by a court being Christian? In any case, on your grounds an atheist, a Marxist perhaps, can be a Judge, as he can wear the wig - and he is less likely to uphold Christian values than Mr Singh. As I've indicated already, Mr Singh is much more likely to support a person who wants to wear a cross at work.

Don't people swear on the BIBLE?

The reason people swear on the Bible is not because the court must be Christian. It is so that we know they are telling the truth. This is why Locke said atheists couldn't be tolerated because they have nothing to swear on and can just lie. Muslims too can lie if they swear on the Bible as it means nothing of significance to them.

I know the wig was popularised by King Charles the II 1660 and they protected from getting head lice at the time

How then can allowing Mr Singh an alternative form of clean head-gear be a step in the direction of Sharia?

2 August 2011 16:35  
Blogger Albert said...

I hate what we are becoming.

I don't think Mr Singh is the cause of "What we are becoming". I think it is the kind secularism we have left unchallenged that is the main problem, as it has removed any possibility, even in principle, of having any shared values. It's hard to see how immigrants can be expected to integrate into shared British culture and values when we haven't got any any more - or even any shared categories for having them. One of the few ways someone might still seek to integrate would be through the Law.

2 August 2011 16:40  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Oh Albert, you are a dangerous man! Stay away from British lions, is my advice:

''Then Pa, who had seen the occurence, and didn't know what to do next, Said ''Mother! Yon lion 'as 'et Albert'' and Mother said ''well, I AM vexed!''

PS ... another old ''established British custom'' was 'hanging, drawing and quartering' - to say little of the gouging-out of eyes, or the shoving of red-hot pokers where the sun don't shine!

It's horses for courses, and it's a British race, when all is said and done.

2 August 2011 16:56  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Avi @ 12:53 : :o) Thank you, I had neither the patience nor the inclination ...

2 August 2011 17:07  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I suppose banning the wearing of turbans would mean Sikhs would end up emigrating rather than conforming, which is one way of removing them from the country for those who want racial or ethnic purity.

2 August 2011 19:36  
Blogger Albert said...

...or non-religious conformity, presumably, Dan

2 August 2011 19:55  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Dunno what that's supposed to mean. Probably not relevant to me if that's the case.

2 August 2011 20:38  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

@ Albert 16:65
I know the British concept is not men wearing bands of cloth around their heads as directed by their guru. They consider their hair to be holy we don't. Why can't Mr Singh respect what we have, the wig as a sign of sovereignty, dedication, courage and honour in this country. His unique identifier is his name not his Turban.

By allowing one man a concession it sets a precedence for others to follow and once you start giving way it is not long before the Burkha is allowed in court and from then on ways are found to accept little step by little step aspects of Islamic laws including those of their backward family laws. These things creep in if they are not nipped in the bud.


Danj0 well yes, bacteria only thrives if its environment allows.

If you don't like the food served in a restaurant you go elsewhere, you don't go and try to get the menu changed to suit your pallet that would be very selfish.

2 August 2011 21:58  
Blogger Dodo the Dude said...

Avi Barzel said ...
"If it (circumcision) were to be banned, and I were to have a son...two unlikely occurrences in my lifetime...I hope that I would have the guts to violate such a law without a second thought, and with an expression of contempt, and then to gracefully accept the judicial penalties."

Precisely, it is not a "relativistic idiosyncracy". It is a religion symbol. So too is the burqua for some Muslims. Neither are 'necessary' in secular terms and each potentially 'offends'.

Lets not just dismiss the significance of anothers religious practice whilst being a bear about our own.

It cuts both ways ............

2 August 2011 23:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marie1797

Should we make him shave too? Not terribly good form to have such a bedraggle beard - what, what, what?

2 August 2011 23:48  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

No his beard is fine nothing wrong there.

3 August 2011 00:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It could do with some Grecian 500 though and maybe a slight trim.

3 August 2011 00:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also believe his eyebrows need attention - way too bushey.

3 August 2011 00:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People who have not reform their religious organisation to be more inclusive of nonbelievers and who still irratinally or unnecessarily still follow the old ways or backward ways of their religion, whether in the form or religious dietary law or religious attire or religious law, is extreme in one way or another or have a tendency to be more extreme, when they gain more clout or power. Just look at extreme islam how their extreme islamic religion had gone more extreme, with the rise of their petrodollars.
I hope Albert would not jump to the conclusion again on what I said or try to blame the almost nonexistent secular extremism, which I do not agree on too, if it exist. Is Albert trying to imply that those of us nonbelievers who do not wish to pander to religious extremism are secular extremist? Furthermore, I did not said that "sikhism is automatically a form of religious extremism" as Albert tried to imply. I meant more on preventing religious extremism, be it from any religious people, whether they wear their religious attire or not in the public High Court or in any public place.
WLIL

3 August 2011 02:03  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Marie: "If you don't like the food served in a restaurant you go elsewhere, you don't go and try to get the menu changed to suit your pallet that would be very selfish."

If that were the maxim we should live by then women would not have the vote now.

The issue for me is not whether Sikhs should be here, I'm happy to have them. Nor whether they should be able to wear turbans in their private or our shared public space. I'm happy for them to do so.

The issue for me is whether they, or any other religious people, should be able to dictate to employers what they may wear or how they may behave in the workplace simply because they attach 'religious' to their garb or actions.

In our shared public space, we maximise freedom and intrude on it where we think it is necessary. We are individuals and the mode is that we are always free unless we are explicitly restricted by regulation. In the workplace, it's almost the opposite as we are employees rather than individuals, and it is the employer who is restricted by regulation.

A religious attribute has something quite core to do with identity, which we highly value, but so has (say) goth, or Labour activist, or environmentalist, or vegetarian.

I have contracted with my employer as equals and he decides, subject to regulation, how he wants me to dress at work, how he wants me to behave at work, and what he wants me to do. I can't unilaterally decide to put up Che Guevara posters around my desk, or hang up Pirelli calendars depicting scantily-clad women, or wear black clothing, enormous boots, and lots of visible piercings.

Which brings us to regulations. On what basis do we decide to intrude on the freedom of employers to set their own rules in this area? We know how it works in practice: in dress codes, turbans are protected and crosses are not. I can justify that I reckon without victimising Christians.

3 August 2011 06:11  
Blogger len said...

I can only assume that a cross poses a threat because it is a viable religion which threatens secularism and the present World system and the turban is a harmless head covering.?

3 August 2011 08:08  
Blogger len said...

Satan and his followers hate the Cross of Jesus Christ because it was through the Cross Satan was defeated and this present Word System was exposed and Judged.
Satan wants to do all he can to hide the message of the Cross from this World because the Cross of Christ is a doorway that opens the Way to salvation.

3 August 2011 08:12  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"I can only assume that a cross poses a threat because it is a viable religion which threatens secularism and the present World system and the turban is a harmless head covering.?"

Assume away. Even indulge in blue-sky assuming if you like.

Satan almost certainly doesn't exist so I'm not his follower if you're continuing to be oblique. It's quite funny actually, making what to me is a simple wooden thingy all wooooo.

The cross is a totem, almost a talisman in some hands actually, and serves a brand like a red football shirt does to a Liverpool FC fan.

Lots of employers turn their noses up at employees wearing football shirts. It's not business wear and it might even create unnecessary tensions in the workforce.

With football shirts, it's not unreasonable to say to an employee: keep your private interests and hobbies for your own time. Similarly with crosses.

That said, I don't suppose an employer cares if an employee chooses to wear his 'lucky shorts' under his suit on match day, nor if an employee chooses to wear his voodoo, juju, crosstianity, or whatever spooky stuff out of sight.

3 August 2011 08:33  
Blogger Albert said...

Anonymous,

I did not said that "sikhism is automatically a form of religious extremism" as Albert tried to imply.

Unless I am mistaken, you have been arguing Sikhs cannot wear the turban if they are judges in court. You have also suggested we should oppose religious extremism in courts. Now, in the absence of any other argument against the turban, it appears that your objection to it is that it is an expression of religious extremism. If that is not your meaning, then I apologize for any inference I implied. But some clarity here would help.

I would define a religious extremist as someone who wishes to impose his religion on others. A secular extremist is someone who wishes to impose his secularism on others. I cannot see that Mr Singh is a religious extremist - but I can see that at some of those who oppose him may do so for secular extremist grounds.

3 August 2011 10:54  
Blogger Albert said...

Marie,

I know the British concept is not men wearing bands of cloth around their heads as directed by their guru.

The British concept?! Who has defined this? It has been a long standing British concept to allow Sikhs to wear turbans.

And if it comes to that, why is a "British concept" so untouchable anyway? As someone pointed out yesterday: "another old ''established British custom'' was 'hanging, drawing and quartering' - to say little of the gouging-out of eyes, or the shoving of red-hot pokers where the sun don't shine!"

His unique identifier is his name not his Turban.

We have already seen that that is not true. Consequently, your rule that he may not wear his turban means Khalsa Sikhs may not serve a Judges - and for all I know in other circumstances too. Do you really wish a part of our society to be banished from part of our justice system over a tradition of wearing wigs which has already been abandoned by such judges in many cases anyway?

By allowing one man a concession it sets a precedence for others to follow and once you start giving way it is not long before the Burkha is allowed in court and from then on ways are found to accept little step by little step aspects of Islamic laws including those of their backward family laws.

The slippery slope fallacy here has been dealt with on at least three occasions on this page.

3 August 2011 11:01  
Blogger Albert said...

Dan,

On what basis do we decide to intrude on the freedom of employers to set their own rules in this area?

A place to begin would be that rules should relate to the task in hand. So, to take a comparison. Can a Catholic Seminary discriminate in favour of Catholics? The answer surely must be that it depends on what the job is. It is reasonable that a teacher or priest in the seminary be a Catholic, because such work involves being a Catholic. Is it reasonable to demand that the handyman be a Catholic? No, because his work does not require him to be a Catholic.

By the same token clothing: does it interfere with the work for which the person has been employed? A school teacher or a judge cannot wear a burkha because it is necessary that their faces not be obstructed. But what about a person working in a call centre? I cannot see why not - as it does not affect their work, as the people calling do not need to see the face. The burkha could be banned in such a circumstance if it prevented interaction with other employees which was part of the job.

I cannot for the life of me see on these grounds why a turban should be banned.

3 August 2011 11:12  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"I cannot for the life of me see on these grounds why a turban should be banned."

Me neither. A kirpan, however, ...

Of course, we have had to put in place special religious exemptions for turbans in health and safety law, motorcycle helmet regulations, and police uniforms. And if a Sikh can get out of the nominally universal requirement for a hard hat on a building site then why not me with a baseball cap? It's there that we get to the nub of the issue and how we have chosen to resolve it, much to the disgruntlement of the Christian Institute et al.

3 August 2011 11:24  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"Me neither."

Regarding being banned by the State, I mean. Whether an employer ought to be able to tell an employee to remove her burqa or leave the premises is a different matter.

3 August 2011 11:31  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

My office is hideously hot today as we have no air-conditioning. As a result, I would like to come into work in shorts. It wouldn't interfere with my work; I would actually argue that it would improve it if I were to dress in what I consider comfortable.

Unfortunately, I am required by my employer to wear a shirt and tie, office trousers, and office shoes. We have a dress code policy to which I must adhere and failure to do so will eventually lead to a termination of my contract. I can't really argue with that.

I could ask for a temporary suspension of the policy as a dispensation I suppose and that might actually be accepted but it's not guaranteed and, come cooler weather, it'll be shirts and ties again.

3 August 2011 11:37  
Blogger Albert said...

A kirpan, however, ...

Agreed, for a Judge to have an offensive weapon is I would have thought in conflict with his job (though I expect there have been times in British tradition when it has happened!).

Whether an employer ought to be able to tell an employee to remove her burqa or leave the premises is a different matter.

I think there are many circumstances in which an employer can demand this - I had to think quite hard to come up with a job that even approached permitting the burkha. However, I do think there should be a just reason relating to the work - just because the employer doesn't like it isn't good enough - it's just that most of the time a just reason can be found in this case.

And if a Sikh can get out of the nominally universal requirement for a hard hat on a building site then why not me with a baseball cap? It's there that we get to the nub of the issue and how we have chosen to resolve it, much to the disgruntlement of the Christian Institute et al

I suspect that is the real issue. Probably when these exceptions started, there were worries that banning turbans would be racist, because the connection between religion and ethnicity is often very close. But banning a crucifix is less clearly racist in this context. Hence at the heart of it Marie is right, there is a problem of extending freedoms to immigrants that established individuals do not share. It is perhaps that perception that needs addressing - and one I would hope Mr Singh will place a part in.

We have a dress code policy to which I must adhere and failure to do so will eventually lead to a termination of my contract. I can't really argue with that.

Not under normal circumstances no. But I would have thought your employer has a duty to ensure your office is at a comfortable temperature. As he is currently failing in that, he probably can't impose the dress code (and would be foolish to do so). In other words the contractual gloves are off (as it were).

3 August 2011 11:44  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"Probably when these exceptions started, there were worries that banning turbans would be racist, because the connection between religion and ethnicity is often very close. But banning a crucifix is less clearly racist in this context."

Was there ever talk of banning turbans? Some of the debates of the time are recorded, and in particular the motorcycle helmet one, on the internet. This was in the middle of the 1970s I think when overt racism wasn't particularly frowned upon and race was a big issue.

From what I've read, the debate turned on the effect of not making an exception would have. Some of those in favour said that refusing an exception would exclude a whole, albeit small, section of our society from using motorcycles since their removing their turbans was recognised as not going to happen.

That is, they were arguing that helmets are mandatory, except when compelling arguments are made for exceptions. The turban one was essentially on some sort of utilitarian calculus. And it's set a bit of a cultural precedent as far as turbans are concerned.

3 August 2011 12:32  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"Not under normal circumstances no. But I would have thought your employer has a duty to ensure your office is at a comfortable temperature. As he is currently failing in that, he probably can't impose the dress code (and would be foolish to do so). In other words the contractual gloves are off (as it were)."

There's no upper temperature in the law. Besides, as soon as the temperature drops then the dress code is back in force. That's the actual point here. Workplaces (including Christian B&Bs too) are regulated environments, the employers are regulated by the State and the employees are regulated by the employer and the State.

Your arguments turn on the core freedom of people to dress as they please as long as it doesn't affect their work. Clearly that doesn't apply in reality. The Sikh in the article ought to wear the legal wig according to customs and practice but we have a cultural precedent about turbans and other headgear now and no doubt his employers on balance are happier to have him as a judge than refuse to make an exception, and therefore a fuss, for turbans to the customs and practice.

3 August 2011 12:41  
Blogger Albert said...

That's interesting Dan - by racism I meant the worry about excluding a whole section of society, rather being bothered by Jim Davidson jokes.

they were arguing that helmets are mandatory, except when compelling arguments are made for exceptions. The turban one was essentially on some sort of utilitarian calculus.

I think that raises a crucial issue here: proportion. With the turban we face balancing the importance of keeping a wig wearing tradition against the risk of alienating an enter section of our community from part of the justice system.

I cannot see that anything said on this (rather long thread) has told in favour of keeping the wig.

3 August 2011 12:42  
Blogger Albert said...

There's no upper temperature in the law.

Perhaps not, but I'm sure a court could make a judgment and set one, which may result in your employer having to either fix the air con or let you wear shorts. Hard to see how the law could give a one size fits all answer though (to the temperature, not the shorts).

Your arguments turn on the core freedom of people to dress as they please as long as it doesn't affect their work. Clearly that doesn't apply in reality. The Sikh in the article ought to wear the legal wig according to customs and practice

But it doesn't affect his judgment, so it simply comes down to whether it is proportionate to uphold the dress custom to the degree of excluding him and his entire community. The symbolic cost to our justice system of such an exclusion for such a petty reason would presumably be self-defeating and so perhaps not even proportion would come into play here.

3 August 2011 12:47  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"But banning a crucifix is less clearly racist in this context. Hence at the heart of it Marie is right, there is a problem of extending freedoms to immigrants that established individuals do not share."

That's not really true, is it, despite what special interest political pressure groups, like the Christian Institute, and rags like the Daily Hail would have people believe. There's a small likelihood that we'll actually end up universally banning burqas in public in the UK, following on from Belgium and France.

The difference between a cross (or burqa) and a turban, as I'm sure everyone actually knows outside of forums and newspaper comments areas is that a cross is not a mandatory requirement of the Christian religion and the Christian Institute is merely encouraging people to make a fuss for political reasons. We travel a very thin line on stuff like that and thankfully Sikhs have sensibly compromised on kirpans.

The Jehovah Witnesses have presented a related issue with blood transfusions. It seems, ahem variously, to be a mandatory requirement of their religion. Well, individual adults can refuse the treatment like the rest of us but thankfully the State has effectively decided that JWs cannot force their religious requirement onto their kids thus potentially killing them even if that means their spirits are compromised, or whatever mumbo-jumbo the JWs say is the result of their interpretation of the Old Testament. Hurrah!

3 August 2011 12:57  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"Perhaps not, but I'm sure a court could make a judgment and set one, which may result in your employer having to either fix the air con or let you wear shorts. Hard to see how the law could give a one size fits all answer though (to the temperature, not the shorts)."

C'mon. The actual issue is whether employees get to dictate to their employers what they want to wear ... and the answer is no isn't it?

But Sikhs want to. And some Christians. And some Muslims. All on religious or religio-cultural reasons and they want special privileges.

We know that the way it works is that employers get to choose but with some regulation by the State for things like health and safety ... and some religious exceptions.

The religious exceptions by the State are made on a case-by-case basis and, it seems, the justifications have to be pretty good so far and on a society-wide calculus. But New Labour have thrown a spanner in the works and things are not looking quite so certain now. But hey, we'll see how it pans out.

3 August 2011 13:08  
Blogger Albert said...

That's not really true, is it, despite what special interest political pressure groups...The difference between a cross (or burqa) and a turban, as I'm sure everyone actually knows outside of forums and newspaper comments areas is that a cross is not a mandatory requirement of the Christian religion

Actually that was my point. Banning the turban does exclude a part of our society in a way that banning a cross does not. Therefore, banning a turban appears racist - persons of punjabi origin need not apply.

But this raises a nest of problems: if Sikhs get to keep a very visible expression of their religion, why should not Christians have a very small token of theirs? The cross does not stop individuals doing their job. It is such a familiar thing that most people probably don't notice when someone is wearing one, and very likely, employees have been wearing them with no problems for decades. Then suddenly, an employer says "You can wear your turban but cross must go." That's when it begins to look cherlish.

The problem is increased if the employer allows (say) a Muslim woman to wear a headscarf (which is highly visible but isn't compulsory) but then bans the cross on the grounds that it is not compulsory.

So it seems to me that the logic of this is not at all clear or consistent and that's why people wonder about the motivation of it.

The actual issue is whether employees get to dictate to their employers what they want to wear ... and the answer is no isn't it?

Not at all. An employer does not have limitless rights here. Suppose a man who runs an office says women must dress in a sexy way - is he able to do so? Should he be? (Assuming dressing in a sexy way has nothing to do with their work, of course!)

With the heat, I think a court would probably rule that if the temperature reaches a certain temperature, the employer cannot insist on certain clothing, as he has a duty of care to the employee.

3 August 2011 13:27  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

No, not at all now you are delving into the realms of personal grooming. If he wishes to sport eccentric facial hair as long as it doesn't effect his vision and his work that's up to him. The wig is part of the uniform of a judge and has to be worn by all until such a time as it is decided to withdraw or replace it. Why Mr Singh has to have special treatment and be allowed to wear his badge of honour the turban instead and then it be announced as if he's managed to overcome such adversity and hardship in his “fight” for his right not to fit in with all the others is ludicrous.

3 August 2011 13:30  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

I'm happy to have them here too albeit in sensible numbers.
I think they should fit in with our ways and stop being so awkward. It's got nothing to do with the vote which was not about women wanting to be different it was about women wanting the same as men, a vote on who should govern the country.

An employee should not be able to dictate to any employer public or private really what they want to wear for work on any grounds religious or otherwise. Companies spend millions on establishing a Co. brand only for some upstart freak to come along and refuse to wear part or all of the uniform As for public sector the uniform defines the profession and is an important factor in both national and international recognition. He should be sacked for insubordination.
What takes precedence in his life , his religion or his profession? Where do his loyalties lie?

So an employer is free and has the authority to say to an employee what they have to wear and can and cannot wear to work. A cross is an accessory and does not interfere with the uniform a turban is replacing part of the uniform which should not be allowed.

3 August 2011 13:52  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

@Danj0 6:11
I'm happy to have them here too albeit in sensible numbers.
I think they should fit in with our ways and stop being so awkward. It's got nothing to do with the vote which was not about women wanting to be different it was about women wanting be the same as men to be able to vote on who should govern the country.

An employee should not be able to dictate to any employer public or private really what they want to wear for work on any grounds religious or otherwise. Companies spend millions on establishing a Co. brand only for some upstart freak to come along and refuse to wear part or all of the uniform As for public sector the uniform defines the profession and is an important factor in both national and international recognition. He should be sacked for insubordination.
What takes precedence in his life , his religion or his profession? Where do his loyalties lie?

So an employer is free and has the authority to say to an employee what they have to wear and can and cannot wear to work. A cross is an accessory and does not interfere with the uniform a turban is replacing part of the uniform which should not be allowed.

3 August 2011 13:55  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

"But this raises a nest of problems: if Sikhs get to keep a very visible expression of their religion, why should not Christians have a very small token of theirs?"

It's mandatory for orthodox Sikhs and not for Christians is the broad answer. Employment law expects like employees to be treat alike. But men and women can be treated differently as long as they are held to a similar standard of dress code. So, I bet a Sikh and a Christian could be differentiated on similar grounds. If jewellery is allowed then I expect a gold cross would be very hard to prohibit.

"Not at all. An employer does not have limitless rights here. Suppose a man who runs an office says women must dress in a sexy way - is he able to do so? Should he be? (Assuming dressing in a sexy way has nothing to do with their work, of course!)"

I have explicitly said, time and again, that an employer is regulated by the State so one ought to be able to read from that that he does not have limitless rights.

In answer to your specific question, I imagine it would be covered under discrimination laws if the men were not required to dress to a similar standard. Of course, employees are free to terminate their contracts and also to make public the dress code and the marketplace can decide.

3 August 2011 14:11  
Blogger Albert said...

Dan,

It's mandatory for orthodox Sikhs and not for Christians is the broad answer.

You're probably right as far as the law goes. But no employer will look reasonable on this one. Moreover, what of the circumstance in which the employer is allowing a head-scarf to Muslims? I think in the BA case that was more the issue and it raises the question of whether an employer is simply irrationally ideological.

I have explicitly said, time and again, that an employer is regulated by the State so one ought to be able to read from that that he does not have limitless rights.

In which case, the premise from which you were previously arguing (The actual issue is whether employees get to dictate to their employers what they want to wear ... and the answer is no isn't it?) needs modifying and cannot be used as it stands in an argument. That was the only point I was making.

I imagine it would be covered under discrimination laws if the men were not required to dress to a similar standard.

What if there were only women there or if the men were similarly required to dress in a sexy way, so that no sex discrimination issue arose? Do you think the employer would be or should be allowed to make such an imposition then?

3 August 2011 15:19  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

@Danjo
A cross is an accessory a turban is a statement. One is subtle and blends with most uniforms the other is flamboyant and stands out by miles like it was designed to be recognised during battles.
Another Siki symbol is the steel bracelet that could be worn with his judges uniform to remind him of God. Why is the turban mandatory for men and optional for women?

Re: dress codes I think most corporates provide or reimburse for a summer and a winter uniform.
And their codes allow for smart sandals and sometimes even shorts if not a public facing role but it down to the individual employer to decide what is a reasonable compromise and what is acceptable for their business. These days most are more than willing to accommodate their staff's welfare requests and have you asked for a fan or portable air conditioning unit for your office that is not an unreasonable request and not too costly. If a boss tells women empolyees to wear short skirts and the business is not in the sex trade or a reason is not stated in the contract then no they do not have to wear them.

3 August 2011 16:04  
Blogger Marie1797 said...

@Albert
Sikhism has nothing to do with being British. It is about as far removed as the continent it belongs to is from our shores. The British during their rule persuaded the Sikhs to tone them down to what we see today as they were much larger. And in their country the turban belongs to the rest of the dress which is appropriate for their climate and just as beautiful as our judges apparel.

If he wont comply with what our judges have to wear in this country - it's only family law where the uniform has recently been changed, and not for the better, so that they were more family friendly - then he has to decide where his loyalties lie?

Re: the slippery slope, I know it has been dealt with on this thread but you choose to ignore it otherwise you would still not be arguing for the turban to be allowed to be worn in court.

“I suspect that is the real issue. Probably when these exceptions started, there were worries that banning turbans would be racist, because the connection between religion and ethnicity is often very close. But banning a crucifix is less clearly racist in this context. Hence at the heart of it Marie is right, there is a problem of extending freedoms to immigrants that established individuals do not share. It is perhaps that perception that needs addressing - and one I would hope Mr Singh will place a part in.”
Yes, now you're spot on Albert.


How many Sikis are there to alienate? What are you so afraid of you cowards. No wonder our culture has disappeared.

3 August 2011 16:08  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

We're reduced to pedantics now over my bits I think. I'm happy as it is.

3 August 2011 16:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Albert,
I did not said that 'sikhs cannot wear their turban in court', as you tried to imply, though I disagreed with religious interference or religious attire such as turban, burka, or any other religious attire in the court.

WLIL

4 August 2011 03:42  
Blogger Mai said...

I find something fascinating in this discussion. You are going on and on about Sikhs - which is fine, but I don't see a single Sikh writing anything. I wonder why that is?

It might be simply because there are no Sikhs who regularly read this blog. I came across it looking for a picture of Rabinder Singh; I came for the picture, but got totally intrigued by this whole discussion.

BTW, I am a Sikh woman, named Harinder Kaur and I am Canadian.

15 October 2011 06:02  

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