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USA: In California, Modesto Police Department hires First Sikh officer

Varinder Khun Khun, an Indian by origin has lived in Ceres for 10 years

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Logo of Modesto Police Department. Image source: www.modestogov.com
  • Khun Khun represents the Sikh community which originated in Punjab around the 15th century in the Indian subcontinent
  • Khun Khun, an Indian by descent, has lived in Ceres for the last 10 years
  • the Police Chief Galen Carroll said he hopes Khun Khun to be “the trailblazer that may bring more Sikh officers who are interested in police

It is the first for the community as Modesto Police Department has announced a Sikh officer this Tuesday afternoon, June 14. Along with two others, Varinder Khun Khun graduated from the Napa Police Academy on June 11. His name is placed as an officer among the other 33 hired this year by the department.

“I’ve never seen police officers wearing a turban before; I didn’t know if I would get a chance (to be a police officer) … I am thankful for MPD giving me the opportunity,” said Khun Khun before he was sworn in at 1010 Tenth Street in Modesto, said the modbee.com report.

Varinder Khun Khun was sworn in Tuesday, June 14, becoming Modesto's first Sikh officer. Image source: India.com
Varinder Khun Khun was sworn in Tuesday, June 14, becoming Modesto’s first Sikh officer. Image source: India.com

Khun Khun, an Indian by descent, has lived in Ceres for the last 10 years. His happiness knows no bounds as he repeatedly expresses he had never thought he would be allowed to practice his religion through the mandatory turban and beard besides being an officer.

It comes as a new sign of a tolerant, peaceful co-existence of communities that Khun Khun has been given the freedom to wear his religious clothing since it is well know that the Modesto Police Department, in its grooming policy makes it compulsory for officers to be clean shaven and to keep moustache only till the edge of the lip.

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According to modbee.com, the Police Chief Galen Carroll said he hopes Khun Khun to be “the trailblazer that may bring more Sikh officers and other people who are interested that think they can’t be officers.”

Khun Khun had approached Carroll a year ago regarding his query whether he can join the force and be freely permitted to practice his religious beliefs.

“I told him that that didn’t matter, that we would make accommodations for his religious beliefs and that, more importantly, we were looking for people with high character standards and he would be an addition to the Police Department as a segment of the community that is not represented in the Police Department,” Carroll had said in reply to Khun Khun.

Surprisingly, it is not known widely that in 2012, Gov. Jerry Brown had signed a law, the California’s Fair Employment Act which called for protection against discrimination for religious dress and grooming practices.

Further, in April, three U.S. Army enlistees had won permission for wearing beards and turbans after they filed federal lawsuits. The lawsuits were to seek the Pentagon’s accommodation to those wearing beards for religious purposes, according to The Associated Press (AP).

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Khun Khun represents the Sikh community which originated in Punjab around the 15th century in the Indian subcontinent. The faith has been practised in the US for about 100 years now, as recorded by the Bee archives. The Central Valley accounts for the largest Sikh population in the country.

Others who were sworn in for various posts in the department on Tuesday were:

▪ Jared Silva, from the Napa Police Academy. The son of Chief Probation Officer Jill Silva, he graduated magna cum laude from Fresno State University.

▪ Daniel Hammer, from the Napa Police Academy, where he was awarded the top academic award. He has also served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps.

▪ James Shackleford, who joined the Modesto Police Department as a lateral-transfer police officer. He has previously worked at the Stanislaus County and Calaveras County sheriff’s departments.

▪ Aaron Tait was promoted to lieutenant. He has worked for the Modesto Police Department since 1998. He has also supervised the Stanislaus County Auto Theft Task Force, Crime Reduction Team and the Traffic Unit, among others.

▪ Darline Kasper joined the Modesto Police Department as a clerk. She began as a volunteer in the Investigations Division.

▪ Jillane Blakeley joined the Modesto Police Department as a clerk. She previously worked for the Stanislaus Foundation for Medical Care for 19 years.

-prepared by Maariyah Siddiquee, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @MaariyahSid

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  • Paras Vashisth

    ‘The trailblazer’ – means hopes a lot !!
    Huge opportunity and he should be work it on very willingly.

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Donald Trump Planning to meet Putin during his Asia tour

Donald Trump's first trip to Asia is the longest international tour.

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US President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump. wikimedia commns
  • US President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he expected to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during his Asia tour.

“I think it’s expected we’ll meet with Putin, yeah. We want Putin’s help on North Korea, and we’ll be meeting with a lot of different leaders,” Donald Trump told reporters on Air Force One before landing at the Yokota Air Base in Japan, Efe reported.

Putin is scheduled to participate in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Da Nang, Vietnam, which Trump will also attend as part of his long Asia tour.

The North Korean nuclear threat is expected to dominate Donald Trump’s meetings in Japan and the next two stages of his tour, South Korea and China, where he will have a highly anticipated sit-down with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The remainder of the tour will be more focused on economic issues, with Trump scheduled to take part in the APEC meeting in Da Nang and then in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and the East Asia Summit in the Philippines.

Donald Trump’s first trip to Asia is the longest international tour by a US head of state since the one then-President George H.W. Bush embarked on in 1992.

Bush became ill at the end of that trip, famously vomiting on the Japanese prime minister’s lap at a formal dinner before fainting.(IANS)

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Turkish President Erdogan passes Controversial Religious-marriage Law; Is Getting Marriages Registered by Muslim Clerics Against Secularism?

Sezgin Tanrikulu, an MP with the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) hence believes the law was “not an actual need”.

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Erdogan
President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Wikimedia

Turkey, November 4, 2017 : President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has brought into force a new controversial legislation which will now allow state-approved Muftis to perform and register marriages that will be considered legal. The move is being seen as a blow to Turkey’s secular foundations.

The new law, which was proposed by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government, was passed in the Turkish parliament last month, signed by Erdogan on November 2, and was published in the Official Gazette on November 3, which denotes its official implementation.

Who is a Mufti?

The state religious affairs agency of Turkey is called Diyanet.

Diyanet employs Muftis; clerics who take care of all religious and worship across the nation.

What Is The New Legislation All About?

Turkey has a dominant Muslim population. However, the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, had formally established a secular state under a constitution in 1923.

Religiously observant couples often got married by local clerics. However, as per the previously applicable rule of law, it was mandatory for all couples, including the religiously observant couples, to be married by a state registrar from the local municipality, to legalize the marriage.

Now, the new law has accorded formal recognition to marriages performed by clerics.

Criticisms Of The Move

Erdogan has been repeatedly accused of eroding the secular nature of present-day Turkey.

Critics of the new law now fear the move,

  1. May bear considerable impact on unregistered marriages and child marriages
  2. May divide the society into two groups- Those who have marriages registered by clerics and those who do not.
  3. May motivate members of other religious sect to demand for similar rights that might completely hamper Turkey’s secularism.

Increase In Unregistered Marriages

As per the previously operational trend, couples who got married by a mufti would go on to get their marriages registered by the municipality. However, by formally recognizing marriage-ceremonies conducted by clerics as a civil marriage, couples would now be able to forego with that practice.

Critics fear this new law will pave way for higher unregistered marriages, thereby breaching Turkey’s civil code.

Sezgin Tanrikulu, an MP with the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) hence believes the Erdogan’s law was “not an actual need”.

According to a report by AFP, Tanrikulu was quoted as saying “The AKP has taken another step that harms the state’s secular pillars and that moves people away from secularism.”

Affect On Child Marriages

According to UNICEF, Turkey tops the list of child marriages almost 15 per cent women married by 18.

Granting authority to religiously motivated clerics, who may have underlying contentious intentions, and who may or may not be knowledgeable or equipped enough to deal with larger issues of growth and population, may support underage or forced marriages that will harm Turkey’s secular stand.

However, the Erdogan government believes the new legislation will provide greater religious freedom to the people of Turkey. However, it will be too soon to say whether the new legislation will be successful or not.

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California Becomes the first US State to allow Gender-neutral Birth Certificates

The so-called "nonbinary" gender means not exclusively male or female or a combination of two or more "genders."

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gender-neutral
The law, published on the government official website, also made it easier for people to change their gender identity on official documents. Pixabay

California, October 17, 2017 : California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a state senate bill, allowing a gender-neutral marker on birth certificates and driver’s licenses starting from 2019.

California thus became the first state in the US to allow a “nonbinary” gender to be marked on birth certificates, Xinhua news agency reported.

The so-called “nonbinary” gender means not exclusively male or female or a combination of two or more “genders.”

According to the Gender Recognition Act approved on Sunday, California will offer a gender-neutral option on state documents for those who are transgender, intersex and others who are not identified as male or female.

ALSO READ Finding their place in the world; Oxford Dictionary to include honorific Mx for transgenders

The law, published on the government official website, also made it easier for people to change their gender identity on official documents.

“Existing law authorises a person who was born in this state and who has undergone clinically appropriate treatment for the purpose of gender transition to obtain a new birth certificate from the State Registrar,” the bill read.

The Golden State is now also the second state in the US to allow residents to be identified by a gender marker other than “F” or “M” on their driver’s license.

Oregon and the District of Columbia had earlier issued the gender-neutral option on their driver’s licenses.