Page last updated at 15:10 GMT, Sunday, 23 August 2009 16:10 UK

Sikh meeting to take on prejudice

Sikhs in India
Jagdeesh Singh says the turban is seen as a symbol of spiritual wisdom

A conference is being held in Berkshire to address what organisers say is continued prejudice against Sikhs after the 9/11 and 7/7 terrorist attacks.

Jagdeesh Singh, from the Sikh Community Action Network in Slough, said he had been punched and verbally abused twice because of his turban and beard.

Slough MP Fiona McTaggart will talk at Wednesday's event, during which a film called Turbanology will be shown.

The Met Police recorded more attacks on Sikhs after the London and US attacks.

The director of Turbanology, Jay Singh Sohal, and councillor Diana Coad, who is Slough's Conservative parliamentary candidate, will also speak at the event.

It really caused me to re-evaluate 'where are we' in this world as Sikhs, how do we fit in?
Jagdeesh Singh

A message from South East MEP Caroline Lucas will also be read out.

Mr Singh said the turban was a symbol of spiritual wisdom, integrity and dignity in Sikh culture.

But many Sikhs found themselves being accused of supporting terrorism because they wore one, he said.

"We the Sikhs, with our beards and turbans, are the perfect match of Bin Laden unfortunately," he said.

He added he was the victim of two attacks in 2004.

On one occasion he was walking with his eight-year-old nephew in his home town of Coventry when two white men started racially abusing him before hitting him more than 30 times.

On the other occasion he said he was subjected to violent threats and name calling such as "Bin Laden" and "terrorist" by the pupils at a Slough school.

"Emotionally and psychologically it gave me a major shake, it really left me really, really upside down emotionally," he added.

"It really caused me to re-evaluate 'where are we' in this world as Sikhs, 'how do we fit in'?"

According to the 2001 census, Sikh residents make up about 8% of Slough's population, the highest figure by local authority in England.

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