Daler Mehndi protests International Basketball Federation’s turban ban

The forceful removal of turbans of two Sikh players by the FIBA has caused outrage among Sikhs across the world

The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) is being accused of discrimination owing to its ‘headgear policy’ which requires Sikh players to remove their turbans while playing. Since turbans are an indispensable article of Sikh faith, the forcible removal of two Indian players’ turbans during their match against China has deeply hurt the religious sentiments of India’s own turban man, Daler Mehndi.

On the 12th of July, officials of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) forced Amritpal Singh and Amjyot Singh to remove their patkas (modified turbans), stating that the patkas violated FIBA’s ‘headgear policy’. The policy states that “Players shall not wear equipment (objects) that may cause injury to other players.” The global Sikh community has gained extensive support in their outrage over a piece of cloth binding their hair being considered capable of causing injury to other players.

Globally renowned Indian Punjabi musician Daler Mehndi, who like most Sikh men considers his turban a part of his identity, has signed a petition demanding that this policy must be changed. The Indian King of Pop made a video to raise awareness about the issue and to have the offensive policy changed. “A Sikh’s turban is his honour. It has never harmed anyone. So I request everybody… to sign the petition at change.org so that we can have our honour back,” says Daler Mehndi in his video.

Other Indian personalities who have participated in the campaign against this discriminative policy include Sikh sportsmen Bishan Singh Bedi, Milkha Singh and his grandson Jeev Milkha Singh. Among the prominent international names that have supported the cause are US Congressmen Ami Bera and Joe Crowley, who wrote to Mr. Yvan Mainini, (President of FIBA) demanding that the discriminative policy should be changed.