Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that statement of Brigitte Frot, CEO of Federation de soccer du Quebec, that Sikh kids “can play in their backyard…They have no choice”, was highly insensitive and she and the Federation President Martial Prud’homme should immediately apologize.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper to intervene as this ban was affecting fundamental rights of citizens of Canada whose constitution, its 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and other laws and policies protected religious freedom.
Rajan Zed urged coaches, referees and soccer players in Quebec to stand up in solidarity and sportsmanship with the Sikh players and refuse to play till all people of Quebec were permitted to play soccer regardless of religion.
Zed also urged The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, The United Church of Canada, Anglican Church of Canada and other Canadian religious organizations to come out openly in support of Sikhs on this issue.
What was Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom doing, which was mandated to “protect, and advocate on behalf of, religious minorities under threat” and “oppose religious hatred and intolerance”? Rajan Zed asked.
Zed termed the turban ban as ridiculous, appalling, disgusting, narrow-minded, racism and unjust, and added that it should immediately go. He urged people of Quebec to speak out against the ban to display that intolerance was not a Quebec value.
Soccer helped Sikh youth to integrate in the Canadian society and created a healthy camaraderie and sense of equality. Kids not allowed to play soccer simply because of their religious traditions was highly discriminatory, Rajan Zed argued.