Change the decision to ban Sikhs from wearing turbans instead of helmets on motorvehicles

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Sikhism is a rapid growing religion around the world and Sikhs have been living in Sweden for the past 60 years. Whilst the community has been very grateful to the government of Sweden for providing moral support towards the betterment of the community, recently The Swedish Ministry of Transport has suggested some drastic changes towards removing some important laws that concerns the Sikhs living in Sweden.

Sikhs currently enjoy exemption allowing them to drive, and ride vehicles covered under the regulations under 4 kap, 9 § trafikförordningen which include motorcycles, snow scooters etc. The exemption includes both Sikhs who have the motorcycle license (ca 2400 Sikhs according to their estimates), but also those who are passengers on the relevant motor vehicles (Motorcycles, moped etc) which means that not only those who have the relevant license but all other Sikhs - approximately 8000 in Sweden, and the thousands of Sikhs who annually visit Sweden - can be impacted by the decision. 

The undersigned want to express that numerous of the assumptions made in the report made by the Swedish Ministry of Transport are factually incorrect - including that “due to the fact that Sikhs now wear a symbolic Kirpan (suggesting that they wear an accessorized Kirpan instead of the one used daily) they are also able to adjust in the wearing of the turban while riding and driving the motorcycle.”

It is important to bear in mind that the United Kingdom, as late as 2015 expanded their exception for Sikhs to wear turban at hazardous working environment where the staff, ordinarily, is expected to wear helmets. For example, Sikhs in the armed forces and police forces both in the United Kingdom and Sweden are allowed to wear their head dress while on the line of duty.

The removing of the turban is something that is considered not just an infringement on a Sikh’s religious requirement, but will also sustain an blow on the individual’s emotional well being. 

The Ministry needs to use the example from the government of Denmark based on a remark that was made by the Danish People’s Party (right wing party in Denmark) in 2008 which suggested that religious head dress should not overlook the safety considerations, to which the government of Denmark firmly rejected the suggestion as to maintain the religious sanctity and the wellbeing of its citizens.

The report put forward by the ministry states that the regulations is both "outdated" and "inappropriate" due to safety reasons.The Swedish Transport Agency needs to revise the previous reports regarding the number of casualties that involves Sikhs. According to the references and statistics in the report made by the Swedish Ministry of Transport it is estimated that Sikh casualties were held at a minimum -approximately 1 person every 29 years - or 0.001326% of the casualties every year. The regulation change suggested hence exaggerates the extent of the issue at hand in order to justify a removal of the exemption.

In the way the suggestion is phrased we see this change in regulation as a dangerous precedent that can be applied in other contexts such as office work or individual companies and authorities banning their staff from carrying the turban - hence the urgency. This is a slippery slope and the Sikhs should be able to expect regulation once passed to be maintained.

We, the undersigned, therefore request the Swedish Ministry of Transportation to deepen discussion with the Sikh community in Sweden (beyond the one meeting already carried out) in regards to finding a solution that satisfies the requirements set up by the ministry whilst also respecting the Sikh faith and its sanctity.

We thank you for your kindest understanding and we look forward towards increased dialogue aiming are maintaining current regulations allowing Sikhs to wear the Turban instead of a safety helmet.



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