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Friday, January 26, 2007

Sikh and ye shall find

One of the less savory aspects about September 11th paranoia is that religious groups who have nothing whatsoever to do with Islam got abused. Trying to explain to our more red necked friends that the Sikh religion is not even connected to Islam and is therefore innocent of any claims of ‘Muslim Terrorist’ is an uphill battle.

Airplane row is racism says knife Sikh
A Sikh priest asked to hand over his religious dagger by a pilot after he boarded a plane from Auckland to Napier said the issue only served to highlight the racism his community faced in the post-September 11 world. Jarnail Singh and a group of Sikh priests visiting from India got through security wearing their kirpans under their shirts at Auckland's domestic terminal without any problems and boarded their flight to Napier on Sunday afternoon. Mr Singh said a woman sitting behind him spotted his kirpan sticking out and began shaking. "She said I had a knife and got panicked," Mr Singh said. "I asked her 'please calm down, we are not what you think'." The woman's husband notified cabin crew and the pilot asked the men to hand over their kirpans until they landed in Napier. They were given them back once all other passengers had got off the plane in Napier. "Air New Zealand was very fair. It's just disappointing when one lady reacts like that and makes an issue out of it," Mr Singh said. "If we are travelling international we put them in luggage but we have never had a problem before." Mr Singh said he was often taunted by people calling him Bin Laden because of his long beard which under Sikh tradition he is not permitted to cut. "I think people are still paranoid after 9/11 but I'm not even Muslim," he said. "I have a turban, see, so that's how you can tell." Mr Singh has been living in New Zealand for 19 years and working for five years as the vineyard manager at Park Estate Winery.


At 26/1/07 5:50 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because no terrorist would ever think of dressing up like a Sikh to get a knife on board. Just like nobody would ever put on a burqa to get through customs without having their identity properly confirmed. Oh wait, that happened already...

At 26/1/07 5:55 pm, Anonymous deano said...

Although these Sikhs had no violent intentions, to cry 'racism' and 'paranoia' is a load of crap. NOBODY is allowed to carry a knife onto a plane. I am not allowed to carry my 7cm long Swiss army knife onto a plane, for Christ's sake. I don't cry foul. Anyone who tries to carry a weapon onto a plane is an idiot.

At 26/1/07 7:03 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boomer fails it.

Deano nails it.


At 26/1/07 7:50 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God, there are some stupid people in this country. Not so long ago you could carry a cow on a domestic flight.

Paranoid pricks should stay home, and take medication. Most of you will die in your sleep (or on the toilet, if male) than be taken out mid flight.

At 26/1/07 8:18 pm, Anonymous Tim S said...

No doubt that last anonymous poster would be the first person to complain that "They let security lapse" if something indeed were to occur mid flight...Deano hit the nail on the head.

At 26/1/07 10:16 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, I wouldn't, quite frankly there are some people that should taken out moreso than others.

At 26/1/07 10:35 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A friend of mine (white aethist) had a noveltly corporate gift removed from him before a flight from Christchurch to Akl - I think it might have been a letter opener.

A friendly girfriend (Korean) had ber knitting needle taken.

Bloody ridiculous but there we are.

At 26/1/07 10:41 pm, Anonymous Chaan pardesi said...

It is understandable that many peiople are almost paranoid when issues like this take place.
But there is alos much ignorance and very little work done, where Sikhs need not suffer such almost profiling and discriminative action,if the authorities would simply educate its citizens about Sikhs.There could also be special trained staff who could check the Kirpans and the passengers and ascertain they are Sikhs , and let them through.This could be communicated to the pilots who then could anounce prior the flight take off that there are practising Sikh passengers aboard, and other passengers have no reason to worry.

The Sikhs will need to agree the length of the kirpan when travelling aboard planes should be no longer than 4 inches.I think in todays climate both the Sikh community and the authorities world over should discuss this and agree.No body would need to feel discriminated or picked upon.
Chaan Pardesi, United Kingdom

At 27/1/07 7:36 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chaan - Whats to educate?


Black,White,Grey,Green makes no difference.

Trying to turn this into a religious/race beatup is bull.


At 27/1/07 8:17 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my god we are all treated like cattle why should any group get special treatment.

I get sick of people telling me I should be educated in their religion, culture , history etc. life is to short and I decide what I want to learn about or not.

I would like all religious people to make an effort to learn more about science, read some Richard Dawkins, attend a few skeptics conderences but sadly I doubt they will and it is their choice.

So you live your life and I live mine and we will all have to put up with ridiculous treatment from time to time with good humour.

A mate of mine has one leg - the performance he has when travelling but he is white so he puts up with it.

Sure it would be nice if staff were trained to treat amputees with a little more discretion but by the time they have attended the sikhs class, the muslim class, the rature believers class, the homosexual sensitivity class ...... give me a break just get over it who bloody cares thats life.

At 27/1/07 8:19 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel picked on all the time.

Waaaahhhhh its not fair.

At 27/1/07 8:24 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The dagger looks harmless. The end is all bent and would be impossible to take the sheath off. Maybe!

At 27/1/07 10:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have been in trouble if I was travelling with a baby and was asked to drink from its bottle - I haven't drunk milk of any kinds for decandes.

Its all silly and I wish we could get some common sense but common sense is a rare thing so rather than drive myself nuts every day I have had to learn to take stupidity.

Maybe if everyone had to attend humour classes we would all cope better.

Wasn't it sikhs who rioted in London or was it Birmingam and got a play closed down.

Sikhs are idiots, what sort of idiot thinks they can take a dagger of any kind onto a plane these days, but we have to put up with them I suppose.

I had to remember to move my nail clippers into my checked baggage or lose them, it would all drive me nuts if I let it.

At 27/1/07 2:39 pm, Blogger bomber said...

I think we are missing a wider issue here - and that is the bloody pointless bullshit 'security' crap we have to go through on domestic flights. These 'security staff' are one step up from parking wardens in their own sense of self importance - get rid of them - it's bullshit, we are not a bloody target for terrorists for christs sakes

At 27/1/07 6:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What’s wrong with parking wardens.

I realise a lot of people look down on them from their high horse but they have a job to do. If you had a disability and had to put up with lazy, arrogant jerks who think they can park where they like you might appreciate them.

Why look down on security staff either, if you need the money you get what job you can.

Its not just terrorism ‘’for christs sake’’ they keep drunks and other unruly types off.

Have you ever done either of the jobs you sneer at – I doubt it you are much to up yourself.

Maybe they do more than you think you bigot.

Snobby prick.

At 27/1/07 6:35 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There would have to be somewhere to park high horses .....

At 27/1/07 10:19 pm, Anonymous sdm said...

Lookit, I dont have a major philosophical problem with not being able to carry knifes on domestic flights. To me its a 'whatever' issue. And the ban should be universal.

However, yes, to say that Turban = Muslim = Terrorist is stereotypical and wrong. NZ is very fortunate not to, as bomber points out, suffer the degree of terrorist threat as other countries to. However to say that NZ will never suffer from terrorist activity is about as simplistic as equating Sikhs with terrorists.

The point is, I would advocate caution minus the overreaction..

At 28/1/07 10:44 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the US post 911 I met a lady who had had her grandmother's nail file, an heirloom of great sentiment to her, confiscated. Never mind how insensitive that was, how fucking stupid was it? Now what do people think that the Sikhs were going to do with those little daggers - cut their toenails in front of the passengers?

I have a mate who used to work as a barman in a pub frequented by gang members some years back. Fights were common and vigorous and every once in a while someone would pull out a knife. My mate said that although he'd never seen any stabbings, it was inevitable that whoever pulled out the knife would be beaten to an absolute pulp. In fact if you wanted to be beaten to a pulp, that was the most reliable and quick way to achieve it.

Now stop and think. If there is one thing that is absolutely certain post 911, it's that if hijackers try to take over a plane the passengers will no longer sit there meekly waiting for the ordeal to end. You've all thought of this already, admit it. So what are people worried about? I'd be more afraid of a weaponless muscle-bound thug's bare hands than a half-starved Sikh with a prayer knife anyway.

At the other end of the spectrum, when I took a trip to Oz last year I forgot to pack my pocket knife (which has my keys on it) in my luggage until after I had passed the point of no return. So I had to put it through the x-ray machine with the rest of the contents of my pockets and my carry-on bag. At the other end of the machine a security guard picked up my knife and flicked it open. He gave me the most contemptuous, withering look, closed it up, and handed it back to me. I almost dropped it in surprise, but continued to try and affect a look of innocence (I'm sure it looked completely fake), pocketed it and walked off. I was sweating mildly more than usual and I could feeling his eyes boring holes in the back of my neck...

Gee, but somehow despite the opportunity I had been handed I managed to refrain from attacking anyone while on the plane!

I still have the knife, I'm happy to say. I take it everywhere. No doubt one day I'll lose it to your collective paranoia.

At 28/1/07 2:11 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is ridiculous. What next? remove all crosses 'cause they can be potential weapons? Why not! Muslims might be posing as Catholics with the intention to highjack a plane for the purpose of [insert ridiculous political motive that has a NZ and Middle East connection] I'm sure those crosses can do some major bodily harm by being rammed into someone's flesh. Oooo.

Let's be frank, NZ isn't important enough to be highjacked anyway.

At 31/1/07 5:43 pm, Anonymous bomber said...

Its not just terrorism ‘’for christs sake’’ they keep drunks and other unruly types off.
Grin - really Anon - we have metal detectors at airports to help screen for drunks and 'unruly' types on domestic flights do we?

Like Anti-Flag said - we are not a target, the metal detectors are a bullshit security measure that has no place here

At 1/2/07 10:01 am, Anonymous Sam the Abuser said...

And what if another group decides to take "Terrorist" action?

At 1/2/07 10:57 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

They have rules about carrying knives onboard....quite simple you can't do it. So whats the problem, holding onto the knifes for them is a lot better than them having to post the knives back to themselves?! They got a sweet deal out of it and good for them. Some of the 9/11 planes were held up by box cutters, flimsy blade easy to break....so there is the potential there even with small blades. No one should get the special treatment its pretty simple.

At 1/2/07 4:46 pm, Blogger bomber said...

You're right, there shouldn't be double standards, but what this story is about is the mindset of others and how non white people suddenly spook the locals - we see it is a 'one rule for all' issue, those who get focused on see it as 'racisim' - if we don't start understanding that we only deepen the rifts.

At 9/3/07 11:52 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem is simply balance. It is a balance between security and freedom. In this case, it is security versus freedom of religion.

Give someone too much freedom in a free country, and they may endanger others. Key point here is "may". What defines this "may" is a completely different story.

Political climate, overall views in society (i.e., post 9/11), all at this point are leaning more and more towards security.

This isn't necessarily a good or bad thing. It is bad in the sense of less freedom of religion. It is good in the sense of more security.

Or wait, it is the other way around. Or wait, it depends on who you ask. Hmm - I think I want to be safe on planes. But I never want to be stripped of my freedom. These are tough choices that are only going to get tougher the more toes get stepped on.

Jagdeep Singh Poonian


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