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Press Release: 28 September 2004, 13 Asu 536 NANAKSHAHI
Paris, France – The French Sikh community has denied the claim by Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh that the Turban issue has been resolved amicably.
Responding to the statement by India’s Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, the French Sikh Community faxed a statement to UNITED SIKHS which said that they have not received any communication from the French government on the resolution of the issue.
Earlier in the week at a press conference in New York, Dr. Manmohan Singh told the press that the French government had agreed to allow the French Sikh students to wear a particular type of headgear. It was not stated what was the allowed headgear. See http://sify.com/news/othernews/fullstory.php?id=13574865
The French Sikh community emphasized in their statement that no agreement has been reached with the French government, nor has there been any resolution to the French Turban Issue.
This would be the second denial this month that the French Sikh community has had to announce, the first being after Mr. Dominique Girard, the French Envoy to India, had declared that the French Turban Issue had been resolved. See: (http://www.indianexpress.com/full_story.php?content_id=55274). This earlier statement had prompted a formal written response by the French Sikh community to the French government. In their letter dated 18 Sept 2004, the French Sikh community had stated that they had put forth every effort to resolve the issue with no formal written statement of a resolution acceptable to both parties being given to the French Sikh community in return. The letter said that parents would continue to send their Turban-wearing children to public schools. (See below, a translation of the letter of 18 Sept 2004).
The Sikh community worldwide have expressed dismay at the suggestion that allowing any headgear other than the Turban would resolve the Turban issue in France.
Former SGPC president and a co-opted SGPC member, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, said that Dr Manmohan Singh's claim that the French Turban issue had been resolved was an eye wash.
The Indian Tribune quoted Prof Badungar, in a report dated 26 Sept 2004, as saying that the ‘so-called discreet patka’, cannot be a substitute for the Turban.
“ The Turban is an integral part of the religious symbol, dress code and maryada of Sikhs,” prof Badungar is reported as saying. The Gurus had ordained Sikhs to be "sabat soorat dastar sira" (to have unshorn hair and turbans on heads), he continued. The patka was not acceptable, as it violated the Sikh ethos and maryada, he asserted.
As proof that there has been no solution were two incidents of Sikh schoolchildren being turned away from their public schools last week. Earlier last week, 15 year-old Manjit Singh was sent home when he attended school wearing his Turban. On Thursday, September 23, Jasvir Singh, 17 years, was sent home and instructed to attend a private school that he had been assigned to earlier by Mr. Ringard, the Director of Education. His concerned father, Gurdial Singh, has written to the school for an explanation on the manner in which, Jasvir Singh, a minor has been treated in the absence of his parents.
"Currently the situation can be described as, the students are at randomly being refused as they come in to the schools. We don't have a correct count as to how many have been turned away but we are on the look out", said Karmvir Singh, Director of UNITED SIKHS-France.
Kudrat Singh, Director of UNITED SIKHS-France, "The community has has hired 2 lawyers who will be assisted by our legal team."
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