Judge Demands Sikh Man Take Off His “Rag”

Turbans are not welcome in Mississippi. That’s the lesson Jageet Singh learned, anyway, while passing through the state. The devout Sikh was arrested and harassed by both police and a county judge for adhering to his faith’s dress code earlier this year, the ACLU reports.

The good news is that none of this treatment is legal. Still, that’s little consolation when the people designated to enforce and uphold the law are flagrantly ignoring it in order to badger a citizen because of their own prejudices.

Police pulled over Singh, who works as a truck driver, when he drove through Mississippi in January. The officers called Singh a terrorist and hurled other offensive epithets at him for his religion. When a search of his truck turned up nothing suspicious, officers redirected their attention to his attire.

Sikh customs stipulate that baptized males wear both a turban and kirpan while in public, but officers tried to get Singh to remove the accessories, claiming they were illegal. After Singh explained that it was faith-based attire, the officers mocked him and arrested him for failing to “obey an officer’s lawful command.”

Two months later, Singh was required to return to Mississippi to face the charge in court. Instead of being rightfully exonerated, the presiding judge, Judge Aubrey Rimes, added to the harassment by instructing officers to remove him from his courtroom for wearing a turban.

Singh’s attorney initially thought there might be a misunderstanding, but Judge Rimes repeated that he would not permit Singh to sit in his courtroom while wearing “that rag.” Moreover, the judge threatened to hold Singh’s case until the end of the day as a punishment if he continued to wear the turban.

Since taking off his turban would be considered disgraceful in the eyes of Sikh faith, Singh would not remove it. Consequently, Judge Rimes followed through on his threat to make Singh wait outside of the courtroom for many hours.

It just goes to show that Mississippi, which continues to cite religious freedoms in order to strengthen the presence of Christianity in the state, is actually content to extend “religious tolerance” to just one particular religion.

Federal intervention will hopefully prevent the treatment Singh experienced from occurring again. After the Department of Justice conducted an investigation on this matter, the Pike County Board of Supervisors amended its official policies to forbid government employees from demanding that people remove religious headwear.

Alas, this new rule will probably do little to replace the prevailing ill will toward Sikhs in the United States. Often viewed as “Muslim terrorists” due to ignorance and stereotypes, violence against Sikhs continues. Recently, a Sikh Columbia University professor was beaten by an angry mob as they called him “Osama.”

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Michael A.
Michael A4 years ago


Betsy M.
Betsy M4 years ago

I hope this anti-American judge is dealt with swiftly.

Margaret Goodman
Margaret G4 years ago

I'm confused. The Transportation Security Administration is considering letting people with small knives like Mr. Singh's kirpan onto airplanes.

Many states, possibly including Mississippi, do not prevent anyone from purchasing firearms and carrying them anywhere within the state.

So, what is the legal right for the police to examine Mr. Singh's kirpan? Would the police have asked to examine the knife or firearm of a Caucasian truck driver who had a flat tire?

Similarly with the head gear. Why did it need to be examined? Would the police have asked a Caucasian to remove his cowboy or farmer hat?

Perry L.'s 1967 decision to go to Viet Nam rather than stay in Mississippi tells me that 1967 Mississippi was quite unpleasant for non-Christians.

Leslie Gaiter
Leslie Gaiter4 years ago

The ignorance and arrogance of some people in our country amazes me. I guess it highlights a failure in our educational system or just maybe just poor backward parenting.

I hope the gentleman sue them all and I hope their local government learn to stop hiring these idiots. They cost you much too much.

Susan T.
Susan T4 years ago

Can Singh sue? I hope he does. This was a violation of his civil rights, perhaps it could even be considered a hate crime.

Diane L.
Diane L4 years ago

Erasmo said, "I just don't get why these people insist in living in a country where nobody wants them??? Go home or go to another country where you are welcome, where racism and hatred does not exist......You are in the wrong country!!!".........it's comments like this that make me feel ashamed for my fellow Americans. You ARE an American, right? Did you miss the part where Mr. Sindth was merely driving THRU Mississippi in the course of doing his JOB as a truck driver? Did you miss the part where he was pulled over on some bogus trumped up charge and then harassed? Did you not notice that the cops claimed he "had a tire going flat" as their stupid excuse? On an 18-wheeler, highly unlikely that one tire was going flat and that would have gotten the attention of cops. At a weigh station, MAYBE, but not traffic cops. The article didn't say, but my money is on Sindth working for a Canadian employer. I'm sure he didn't want to be in Mississippi and who would?

Richard Hancock
Richard Hancock4 years ago

Stupidity is no excuse...surely the judge and police officers should be punished? Even if only by apologising to Singh and acknowledging their ignorance?

Rekha S4 years ago

Ok so I appreciate that in some countries they have made certain rules for security reasons but there is never any need to speak to someone like that. They have no right to talk to someone like that and be racist towards their religion this must be stopped.

James Campbell
James Campbell4 years ago

“Those who know the Sikh history, know England's relationship with the Sikhs and are aware of the achievements of the Sikhs, they should persistently support the idea of relaxation to Sikhs to ride a motorbike with their turbans on, because it is their religious privilege. British people are highly indebted and obliged to Sikhs for a long time. I know that within this century we needed their help twice and they did help us very well. As a result of their timely help, we are today able to live with honour, dignity, and independence. In the war, they fought and died for us, wearing the turbans. At that time we were not adamant that they should wear safety helmets because we knew that they are not going to wear them anyways and we would be deprived of their help. At that time due to our miserable and poor situation, we did not force it on them to wear safety helmets, why should we force it now? Rather, we should now respect their traditions and by granting this legitimate concession, win their applaud."

Winston Churchill: (whose mother was American)