Now, there is good news for Sikh community. Sikhs travelling to Italy will no longer have to remove their turbans at the airport during security screening. The turban will be accepted as a symbol of religion when Sikhs are photographed for identification cards at local police stations in Italy. Official sources said this was a “big achievement” for Indian diplomacy.
This was officially announced by the Italian interior ministry after bilateral discussions between foreign minister SM Krishna and his Italian counterpart, Franco Frattini, in Rome on Friday.
Krishna, who is in Rome to participate in the 150-year celebrations of Italian unification, made a strong case for Sikhs to be treated more respectfully. He told Frattini that even the European Union accepts Sikh turbans as a religious symbol, so Italy should not discriminate against them either. He pointed out better practices in the UK which had started a more equitable system — let a man touch his own turban and run it through an explosives check.
Krishna had made the turban issue the main point on his agenda — more respectful treatment for Sikhs entering Italy as well as those getting photographed for ID cards. On March 15, Amritinder Singh, the coach of ace golfer Jeev Milkha Singh, was asked to remove his turban while he was about to board the flight to Sicily. That led to protests in India. The government had then taken up the matter very strongly with the Italian authorities.
Italy has the second biggest Sikh population in Europe after UK. There are more than 70,000 Sikhs living and working in Italy. There are over 20 gurdwaras across the country, the oldest in Reggio Emilia in central Italy. Sikhs in Italy are largely engaged in agriculture and dairy and animal farming.