World Sikh Organization Expresses Concern over Rejected Passport Applications

    OTTAWA, Aug. 16 /CNW Telbec/ - The World Sikh Organization of Canada
(WSO) expresses concern over the rejected passport applications of three young
Sikh children, Gurmant Singh Sidhu, Gurleen Kaur Sidhu and Ravneet Kaur Sidhu
of Surrey, British Columbia.
    Passport Canada rejected the applications, stating that the pictures of
the children did not meet specifications because the wearing of a "head
covering is unacceptable."
    The head-coverings in question are traditional Sikh head-coverings worn
by observant Sikhs and the children were wearing these as part of their
religious observance. The WSO finds it particularly odd that while the Sidhu
children's applications were rejected, those of their parents, also wearing
traditional Sikh head-coverings, were accepted. The family has resubmitted the
applications and is waiting for a reply.
    The WSO yesterday sent a letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and
awaits a reply with the hope that this incident is due only to a
misunderstanding on the part of a local official and will be resolved quickly.
The wearing of religious headgear by Sikhs is protected by the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms and if it is indeed Passport Canada's policy to
reject applications from Sikhs wearing these head-coverings, it is completely
    WSO Canada President, Gurpreet Singh Bal said, "It is surprising that
something like this can still happen today in Canada. The Sikh community has
been a part of Canada for over 100 years and it is no secret that many Sikhs
wear religious head-coverings. Hopefully this was a gross error on the part of
a local official but if it is indeed Passport Canada's policy, then this is of
serious concern to the Sikh community."

For further information:

For further information: Maj.(retd.) Jasbeer Singh, Media Relations,
(780) 457-3333, Cell. (780) 235-6000,; Gian Singh Sandhu,
(250) 305-2440,

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