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US agencies for respectful procedure for security clearance of Sikhs

Written by: Staff
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Washington, Nov 21 (UNI) The US Homeland Security Department and a Sikh legal group have agreed on a 'respectful procedure' for security clearance of Sikhs who carry their religious symbols like 'kara' (bracelet) and ceremonial 'kirpan' (sword).

In an effort to bridge the culture-security gap, the Department and the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) yesterday unveiled a poster meant to help screeners through these interactions, says the Washington Post.

It says the poster, which will be distributed to federal facilities across the country, shows photos of different kirpans, ranging from a symbolic necklace some women wear, to the more common three to six-inch daggers, as well as full-on swords.

The poster, which will be distributed to federal facilities across the country, shows photos of different kirpans, ranging from a symbolic necklace some women wear to the more common three to six-inch daggers, as well as full-on swords. Sikhs often wear them under their clothing, bound to them by a cloth body holster, it says.

''Respectfully ask if a Sikh is carrying a kirpan. If so, request to inspect the kirpan,'' the poster reads which further says that if a kirpan must be confiscated, explain the reason why and handle the kirpan with respect and care.

''For Sikh Americans, this is a huge and significant accomplishment,'' said SALDEF Co-founder and Chairman Manjit Singh of the poster, which tells screeners to ''show respect to all variations of the faith''.

Earlier, this month, the SALDEF, the nation's oldest Sikh American civil rights organization, along with representatives from five Washington DC-metro area Gurdwaras met FBI's Washington Field Office Director (FBI-WFO) Joseph Persichini and members of his staff to discuss issues of relevance to the local Sikh American community.

Some of the issues discussed at the meeting included the FBI's efforts to investigate hate crimes against the Sikh American community, increasing outreach by the FBI to recruit from the Sikh American community and incorporating Sikh American cultural competency and protocol trainings for the newly hired FBI agents.

They also discussed ways that Sikh American youth can participate in the FBI's internship program.

During the SALDEF press release, Mr Persichini committed to increasing the outreach to the Sikh American community by increasing recruiting efforts and reiterated his office's commitment to investigate hate crimes diligently.

''The meeting with the WFO was very productive and is a much needed first step to greater partnership between the FBI-WFO and the Washington, DC-area Sikh American community,'' said SALDEF President Mirin Kaur Phool.

She also said that the Sikh community members must increase their outreach to local civic and law enforcement officials to build trust and develop working relationships.

UNI XC MQA ND1958

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