French Sikhs Appeal on Turban Ban
March 07, 2006

French Sikhs Ranjit (l) and Jasvir Singh, expelled from school over their turbans

Sikhs have also fallen foul of a ban on religious symbols in schools

French Sikhs have appealed to President Jacques Chirac over a ruling that they must remove their turbans for driver's licence photographs.

France 's highest administrative body reversed an earlier ruling in favour of Shingara Mann Singh, a French citizen forced to remove his turban in 2004.

It said the order was justified on the grounds of public security and was not a restriction on freedom of faith.

Mr Singh's lawyer said he might appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

The French branch of United Sikhs has called on Mr Chirac to intervene in the matter.

It argues the ruling makes its small community of several thousand in France the victims of "indirect discrimination".

Sikh males are required by religion to allow their hair to grow and most wear a turban, a symbol of Sikh identity, to keep the growth under control.

Boys expelled

Mr Singh, from the northern Paris suburbs, brought his case after he was refused a duplicate driving licence in 2004 because he would not remove his turban.

The Council of State had ruled in his favour on a technicality in December, but has now upheld a revised transport ministry circular insisting that people pose for driving licence photos with bare heads.

It ruled the order was not an obstruction to freedom of religion and cited a European Court of Human Rights ruling which said Sikhs could be obliged to take off their turbans at airport controls.

A number of Sikh boys were expelled from schools in France last year for refusing to remove their turbans after a law came into force which banned students from wearing conspicuous religious symbols.
Article by Courtesy of http://news.bbc.co.uk
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