Community Voice

04 June 2005 21 Jayth Samvat 537 Nanakshahi

French Sikh Turban Issue Raised at UNESCO Conference

Paris—A delegation of French Sikhs led by UNITED SIKHS multifaith director, Jesbeer Kaur, raised the profile of the Turban issue at an international UNESCO conference on Religions for Peace on 1st June 2005, which was attended by the new French Premier's father, Xavier de Villepin.

Jesbeer Kaur, who is also President of the multifaith council of Australia and a member of the New York based Religions for Peace, was in France to help UNITED SIKHS highlight the French Turban issue through UNESCO. Jesbeer Kaur was accompanied to the conference by French Sikhs Jasvir Singh, Bikramjit Singh, Savvy Kaur and Gurdial Singh, president of the task force set up by French Gurdwaras to assist in the French Turban issue.

In his keynote speech, Mr.Xavier de Villepin said Jews and Christians are brothers and that there has been much dialogue between the Jews and the Christians initiated by the former Pope John Paul II.

Gurdial Singh told the conference, which was attended by UNESCO leaders, international and national multifaith leaders and French government officials, that there were 7000 Sikhs living in France who were not consulted when the law against religious symbols and attire in schools was considered.

To a rousing applause, Gurdial Singh said,`We are all brothers and sisters and children of the same God. If we do not see God in all, we cannot see God at all.'

The chairman of the conference, Mr Bencheikh, said of Gurdial Singh's comment,`If people think and act this way then there cannot be wars and problems anywhere in the world.'

The new French premier Mr Dominique de Villepin when he visted India last year had promised Sikh leaders in Delhi that a solution will be found for Turban-wearing Sikh students.

On 31st may 2005 Jesbeer Kaur also attended UNESCO meetings under the Education and Values programme. Discussions were held on teaching comparative studies of religions to students from an early age. Jesbeer Kaur was accompanied to this meeting by Jasvir Singh, one of the students expelled for wearing his Turban to school, and Karmvir Singh, UNITED SIKHS director in France. Jesbeer Kaur highlighted to the UNESCO Officials the discrimination faced by Sikh children under the ban-law. UNITED SIKHS will be writing to the Directors of UNESCO and the Human Rights Committee to investigate this discrimination.

On 8th June 2005, Jesbeer Kaur will be joined by UNITED SIKHS director for International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy, Meerat Kaur, for a conference organised by the World Congress of Ethnic Religion and Traditions in Antwerp.

For more information on the Right to Turban campaign, please link to: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/rtt/

Issued by:
Mejindarpal Kaur
44 7940 703404

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