Passport & National ID-card for Sikhs in Norway

Religious communities rejoice after a six-year struggle to cover their ears in passport photos

from: Sikh community of Norway (Gurdwara in Oslo, Lier, Bergen and Unge Sikher) Oslo, 01.10.2020
Passport and National ID-card for Sikhs in Norway !

Religious communities rejoice after a six-year struggle to
cover their ears in passport photos. 
The change does not
only apply to religious headgear, says Minister of Justice
& Emergency Management Monica Mæland (H).

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The Norwegian government has announced that the new passport and national ID-card have sufficient layers of security, without the need of visible ears on photo-ID. This means that Sikhs, just like rest of the Norwegian citizens, now can issue passports and ID-cards. Since 2014, Sikhs have been denied new passports, due to the requirement of visible ears that has been in direct conflict with the way Sikh turban is tied. Sikhs now celebrate over the new changes in passport regulation!

We are grateful to live in a country that takes its constitutional rights such as democracy, rule of law and human rights very seriously. We are now confident that the authorities promote equality, equity and justice, and that they safeguard the rights of minorities.

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Sikhs have used these tools in our six-year struggle to change the regulation. We have met countless elected representatives from various parties, written thorough hearing replies, sent emails, written articles, engaged international organizations, given interviews to Norwegian and foreign media, and met Ministers and State Secretaries. There is no doubt that we have used our democratic rights. At the same time, we have examined possible legal actions – to lift this case from the political sphere into legal courts. We have always based our claims on the grounds of constitutional human rights and argued how the pervious regulation restricted and discriminated these very rights.

- Many have thought that visible ears provide a safer passport. The question is whether we can secure enough passports without visible ears. We believe that we do, and we are in line with most countries in the world, Monica Mæland says.

We have put in large number of working hours into this struggle. The case has been discussed in Gurdwaras and families, among friends and colleagues. We have worked with various strategies and have relentlessly pursued our way to meetings with key figures. There has been a lot frustration and despair. It has been a long and tough battle.

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Photo: Tuva Skare

Until now, only Norway and France have had such a requirement. Mæland believes that steadfast members of the Sikh community should have the credit for the rule change.

- We know that this means a lot and that they have worked hard, and they should have the credit for that, she says.

Today, all of this is history. What will remain is that the new regulation does not discriminate against any Norwegian, and that we are all equal. The changes in passport regulation means that the Sikhs, on par with everyone else in this country, are equal Norwegian citizens.

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We have won a case that means a lot to us, and with tools that we have acquired through education, work, socialization and dialogue. The gift the Norwegian society has given us, the knowledge of democracy, the rule of law and human rights, was key to unlock a closed door we have met in Norway.

The Gurdwaras in Oslo, Lier and Bergen and a united and committed Sikh community have given the responsibility to Unge Sikher (Young Sikhs) to represent this case. Countless people have put their time and effort in this case. We are forever grateful to Njål Høstmælingen for your guidance and effort. Your enormous contribution has led to the Sikhs historical victory. A big thank you to The Council for Religious and Life Stance Communities in Norway (STL). Also thank you to United Sikhs for writing an expert statement to the Norwegian Government and engaging the UN Human Rights Council.

Thanks to international Sikh organizations and Gurdwaras all around the world. The prayers and contribution of the international Sikh community as been invaluable.

Thanks to the Indian authorities for helping the Indian diaspora in Norway. We would not have been successful without the efforts of Indian Embassy and government officials.

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Finally – thank you, Prime Minister Erna Solberg and your cabinet. We will never forget that on the 1st October 2020, we received a surprise visit from Minister of Justice, Minister of Children and Families and the Minister of Culture on the same day with this priceless gift. They officially relayed Prime Minister’s message that she and her cabinet stand behind the decision to change the current passport and ID-card regulation in favor of the Sikhs.

For more information:
Sumeet Singh
+47 938 42 528, [email protected]

Parmjit Singh              Baldev Singh           Narinder Singh          Sumeet Singh
Oslo Gurdwara         Lier Gurdwara         Bergen Gurdwara            Unge Sikher

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