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Letter: Sikh head covering has religious intent

Satnam Singh, 22, of Queens, is seen in

Satnam Singh, 22, of Queens, is seen in Nassau District Court in Hempstead on Tuesday, May 31, 2016. Credit: William Shanahan

A Queens man claimed he was the victim of religious discrimination for being banned from a Hempstead courtroom when he refused court officers’ requests to remove what he said they called a “doo rag” [“Man claims court barred his turban,” News, June 2].

The turban is among the articles of faith established by Sikhs in 1699 in furtherance of the Sikh identity. It is to be tied in a distinctive fashion. It manages long, unshorn hair and helps Sikhs proclaim their faith.

The photo of Satnam Singh in a turban depicts a head covering indistinguishable from the secular “doo rag” worn by men and women of all races and creeds, which is universally banned in courtrooms in the state — along with baseball caps, berets, fedoras or birthday hats — to maintain courtroom decorum.

To assert that Judge David McAndrews or his staff should have assumed this nondescript headgear had religious significance simply because Singh’s beard and physical appearance suggested he was of Punjabi Indian descent endorses the misguided profiling which Sikhs have been victimized by since the 9/11 attacks.

Steven F. Christiansen, Huntington

Editor’s note: The writer is a lawyer.