An Indian-American Sikh philanthropist and entrepreneur, Gurinder Singh Khalsa, has been presented the prestigious Rosa Park Trailblazer award for his campaign to persuade US authorities change their policy towards Sikh headgear.
In 2007, Mr Singh was not allowed to board an airplane because of his turban, organisers at the event. After that, he took the issue all the way to the US Congress, compelling Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) to change its headgear policy towards the Sikh community. Sikhs can now wear their turban through airport security in the US.
"I was stopped from boarding the flight because I refused to remove my turban. I took this stand for all those who believe in religious liberty and freedom of faith," Mr Singh, who also heads the Indiana-based Sikhs Political Affairs Committee, said.
Mr Singh dedicated the award to his community. "This award is not about me. Change does not exist without the support of a community. I dedicate this award to more than 67,000 individuals from all walks of life across America, and to one of the largest Sikh advocacy group, Sikh Coalition. Without their countless efforts change in the TSA Turban policy would not exist," he said.
The award ceremony was attended by top State officials and eminent community leaders.
"Sometimes those who bravely protest for civil rights are stereotyped as somehow threatening figures - perhaps simply because of the raw courage required to fight for justice. But in the personalities of both Gurinder and Rosa, we see the great power of quiet resolve," Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said.
Indiana State Assembly Speaker Brian C Bosma congratulated Mr Singh on receiving the 2019 Rosa Parks Trailblazer award for his principled commitment to faith and his "pursuit of positive change" that embodies the American principles of free speech and religious freedom.
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