Landmark busman turban case will be another watershed in Finland’s acceptance of cultural diversity

by , under Enrique

Finland is about to cross another watershed in cultural diversity, when busman Gill Sukhdarshan Singh of Vantaa was prohibited from using a turban at work, reports Helsingin Sanomat. Some legal experts see it an open-and-shut legal case.

The excuses for a turban ban by bus company Veolia highlight, however, a wider challenge facing our ever-growing cultural diversity.

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That “challenge” is nothing more than acknowledgement by Finland that we live in a culturally diverse society today. Other ethnic groups and cultures have just as much right to feel at home in Finland.

The whole turban case is as well an example how far behind we lag with other European countries concerning cultural diversity. Sikh bus drivers in England won such rights over forty years ago in 1969.

Despite the arguments used by the bus company to justify the ban, one of the most absurd reasons stated is that waring a tuban is a security risk.

How does wearing a turban cause a security risk?

Singh’s attitutde and approach to the ban by his employer is the correct one that other immigrants and minorities should take when challenging intlerance.  “I’m doing this for my children’s sake so they won’t have to [fight for such a right],” he said.

The case should be seen not only as important to Sikhs living in Finland, but to all immigrants and visible minorities living in this country. Greater acceptance of a group’s rights will have a positive effect on promote greater acceptance of other groups in this country.

On an editorial in Saturday’s Helsingin Sanomat, the daily writes about the turban ban. It hopes that the case is won by Singh.

Meanwhile, retailer HOK-Elanto announced that its employees can wear veils at work, reports Helsingin Sanomat. One of the reasons why their is a policy change in the dress code is because many Muslim women work for the company.

Analysts believe that this practice will become common in other Finnish companies.

While Finland takes proactive steps to accept other groups in this country, parties like the Perussuomalaisiet (PS) are fighting tooth and nail against cultural diversity.

PS MP Vesa-Matti Saarakkala, a well-known anti-immigration lobbyist who is anti-Muslim, has introduced a law initiative in parliament that aims to ban the burqa and nijab in public places. Despite the fact that we’re speaking of a minute minority of women in Finland (I have never seen a woman wearing such clothes in this country), he considers the law important because it is “a preventive measure.”

The law is not expected to pass in parliament.

 

  1. Farang

    To me it’s very disturbing that some groups are trying to make Finland a country where religious elements are promoted in public. This should be exactly the opposite and ALL religious elements should be banned.

    This turban case is an excellent example of immigrants that we don’t want here in Finland. They come here and start to dictate new rules for us.

    If we give in with the turban, then anyone could be demanding anything and in your opinion we should just adapt?

    This is exactly the reason why Perussuomalaiset will get more and more votes. They are the only ones who want to keep Finland as Finland.

    • Enrique Tessieri

      –This turban case is an excellent example of immigrants that we don’t want here in Finland. They come here and start to dictate new rules for us.

      Freng, why does the turban case irritate you so much? Why not accept it and let cultural bygones be bygones? Why make a problem of something that isn’t a problem?

    • Farang

      First of all, we already have a commonly accepted dress code in Finland. Now this turban guy comes and makes it a problem. He comes to Finland and he doesn’t accept our habits and starts to demand that we should change because of his personal desires.

      That is not acceptable, never.

      And he has been able to drive the bus without turban so far, so how could he even claim that he couldn’t because of his religion?

      If someone wants to live with his religious/cultural rules, he can do it in private in his home, but he should not bring that to work places.

      As long as there are immigrants who are doing that kind of stuff, it is acceptable that we have nazis and racists in Finland.

    • Farang

      typo in previous message: should be expectable, not acceptable.

  2. Joonas

    I have to partly agree with Farang this time. Everybody has the right to practice their religion on their free time and at home, but (visible) religious or political elements are not belonging to work place. I do not remember any bus drivers wearing a hat, so turban shouldn’t be any different. If the company has a certain dress code, everybody should follow the code.

  3. Joonas

    “To me it’s very disturbing that some groups are trying to make Finland a country where religious elements are promoted in public. This should be exactly the opposite and ALL religious elements should be banned.”

    However, I do not agree with this sentence. If the person wants to promote his religion on his free time, it is his own business. They do not belong to work place, but you can’t “ban” their freedom to express themselves in public. Some people are wearing miniskirts, some people using baggy pants, some people are using veil etc. and I do not mind about it. I’m not sure about my feelings towards burka, but it’s more complicated topic and has been discussed in MT already.

    • Farang

      Sorry, it came out wrong. What I meant by “promoted in public” was that people who work in public services, eg. serving customers should not be promoting any religious stuff. I would also similarly forbid crosses, so I’m not only forbidding muslim stuff.

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