Washington, DC (December 27, 2007) - In welcome news for the Sikh community before 2008 begins, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reversed a ban on kirpans at its Washington, DC headquarters.
The reversal comes as a result of the Sikh Coalition's intervention. It is the second major reversal allowing kirpans in the workplace in the past two months. In October, AT&T reversed a kirpan ban at a facillity in Ohio.
A Sikh Who Refused to Give Up His Faith
Gurpreet Singh, a software engineer who works for Tata Consultancy Services was assigned to work for the IMF in Washington, DC. He was slated to begin working on September 10, 2007.
When Gurpreet reported to the IMF that day, he walked through a metal detector at a security checkpoint and triggered an alarm. The security guards discovered that Gurpreet Singh was carrying his kirpan.
The IMF Security guards told Gurpreet that he could enter if he gave his kirpan to them. When he refused, they refused to allow him to enter the building. Gurpreet Singh returned home and told his supervisor at Tata Consultancy Services about the incident.
Gurpreet's supervisor communicated with the IMF and was told that his kirpan was disallowed under the IMF's security policy. In short, the IMF gave Gurpreet Singh an ultimatum - either remove his kirpan when reporting to work at the IMF, or give up the contract assignment. Faced with the decision to choose between his work and his Sikh faith, Gurpreet Singh chose the latter.
The Coalition Intervenes
On December 13, 2007, the Sikh Coalition's staff attorney sent the IMF the Coalition's now standard twenty-plus page compilation of precedent and policy recognizing the Sikh right to carry the kirpan.
Yesterday the IMF's Legal Department wrote to the Sikh Coalition stating that Gurpreet Singh would be allowed to carry his kirpan into the IMF building. The IMF's letter stated:
"based on the information we now have regarding Mr. Singh's religion and the significance of the Kirpan, we have discussed this matter with the Fund's Chief of Security, Mr. Warren Young, who has confirmed that an exemption will be granted under these circumstances."
The Sikh Coalition applauds the IMF's decision to allow Gurpreet Singh to carry his kirpan. The Coalition also commends Gurpreet Singh for standing up for his right to carry his kirpan.
We urge all Sikhs to practice their faith fearlessly. If someone tells you to remove your articles of faith, please report the incident at email@example.com.
A HISTORY OF SUCCESS: The Sikh Coalition Has Successfully Defended the Right of Over 20 Sikhs to Carry the Kirpan
New York City v. Makhan Singh
November 8, 2001 - The Queens District Attorney's office decides to drop weapons possession charges against Makhan Singh for wearing a one foot long kirpan openly over his clothing in John F. Kennedy Airport.
Knox County v. Charanjit Singh Dhadwal
December 6, 2001 - The Knox County Prosecutor's office drops weapons possession charges against Charanjit Singh for carrying a kirpan on his person while he was driving his truck through Tennessee.
City of New York v. Harjit Singh and Lal Singh Jassal
January 2002 - A judge in criminal court in Manhattan dismissed criminal charges against Harjit Singh and Lal Singh for wearing a kirpan after learning that the kirpan is a religious article of faith.
Menomee Falls v. Hargian Singh
August 29, 2002 - Hargian Singh was given a citation for wearing a kirpan in Menomee Falls, Wisconsin. At trial the judge dismissed the charges and apologized to Hargian Singh after learning that the kirpan is a religious article of faith.
New York City v. Joginder Singh
October 31, 2002 - A judge in criminal court in Manhattan dismissed criminal charges against Joginder Singh for wearing a kirpan after learning that the kirpan is a religious article of faith.
Capital Federal Bank
February 11, 2004 - A bank in Overland Park, Kansas allows a Sikh teller to carry her kirpan in the workplace after initially barring her from working there with her kirpan.
Scagville v. Avtar Singh and Hardeep Singh
February 19, 2003 - Police in Scagville, Maryland release Avtar Singh and Hardeep Singh who they had detained for one hour after they received a faxed letter from the Sikh Coalition explaining that their kirpan are protected religious articles.
New York v. Kashmir Singh
April 13, 2004 - A prosecutor in Manhattan drops criminal charges against a Sikh cab driver for carrying the kirpan.
State of Montana v. Sarjeet Singh and Gurnam Singh
April 20, 2004 - A prosecutor in Big Horn County, Montana drops a kirpan prosecution against two Sikh truckers for carrying kirpans on their persons while driving through Montana.
Ohio v. Anoop Kaur Ahluwalia
May 12, 2004 - Weapon possession charge dropped against a Sikh woman who entered an airport wearing her kirpan.
City of Bellevue v. Gagandeep Singh
September 17, 2004 - criminal charges dropped for carry the kirpan by local prosecutors in Bellevue, Washington.
State of Washington, County of Kittitas v. Gajjan Singh Bal
July 28, 2004 - criminal charges against a Sikh trucker are dropped for carrying his kirpan while working by local prosecutors in Kittitas County, Washington.
State of California v. Kamaldeep Singh
August 4, 2004 - criminal charges against a Sikh student for carrying the kirpan while studying in the cafeteria are dropped by local prosecutors.
State of Michigan v. Bhagwant Singh
August 16, 2004 - criminal charges against a Sikh for carrying his kirpan while waiting for his father in his car outside an airport are dropped by local prosecutors in Wayne County, Michigan.
Oregon vs. Gurpal Singh
October 1, 2004 - Prosecutors in Roseberg, Oregon decline to file criminal charges against Gurpal Singh (Gill), a Sikh truck driver who was issued a criminal citation for carrying his kirpan, after the Sikh Coalition intervenes.
City of Los Angeles v. Baldev Singh
November 18, 2004 - Prosecutors in Los Angeles drop criminal charges against a Sikh for carrying his kirpan after the Coalition intervenes.
October 24, 2007 - An AT&T in Brecksville, Ohio reverses a ban on the kirpan in the workplace after the Sikh Coalition intervenes on behalf of a Sikh who was working there on a H1-B visa.