Washington, April 24: A Sikh American is being prevented from doing jury duty in Sutter County in Northern California because of his kirpan, the ceremonial dagger worn by Sikhs as part of their religion.
Gursant Singh, who is scheduled for jury duty next week, says he has been told that when he arrives at the courthouse, he should not bring his kirpan, CBS13 reported. (Read: Two NCB officials sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment in bribery case)
Singh says he’s unwilling to violate his religion’s code of conduct. “I feel very strongly that as a citizen of the United States, I should be able to serve as a juror,” he was quoted as saying.
But “they’ve put me in a position”, Singh told the TV channel. “Either I violate my code of conduct with my religion, or I break the law.”
“It’s a very important article of our faith, put it that way,” he said.
Sutter County Jury Commissioner Mary Beth Todd told CBS13 that she was trying to come up with alternatives for Singh.
“It’s important that we provide a safe environment for people’s issues to be heard,” she said.
One way out is what some Sikhs have done in other counties, including storing the kirpan with security, CBS13 said.
“It’s extremely important that we be sensitive to this, and we’re trying to be sensitive to it, and we’re trying to find a solution that will work for both sides,” she was quoted as saying.
But that solution does not work for Singh, who has taken to YouTube to bolster support, the channel said. He says he would rather be arrested than undermine his beliefs.
“I’m willing to do that, if that’s what it takes, in order to bring this issue out,” he said.
The Sikh Coalition, an umbrella community group, told CBS13 that many other government agencies have made exceptions for Sikh people to carry their kirpan, and they would expect the same from the court.