PM raises turban issue with Sarkozy
NDTV Correspondent
25 Jan 2008

New Delhi -

Sikh boys aren't allowed to wear turbans in school as a policy in France. The issue was raised by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with France President Nicholas Sarkozy during their meeting on Friday.

Singh's turban itself must have been a reminder of the sensitive matter back home for Sarkozy, where Sikh boys are banned from wearing turbans to school as a policy, that's brought France a lot of criticism from Sikhs across the world.

Sikh groups have been protesting in Delhi for the past few days and on their demand did the PM take up the issue with his French counterpart.

However, Sarkozy said that the ban was applicable only in special situations.

Gurdial Singh and his wife Surjit Kaur, who are in India just to hold protests say that's not true. Three of their children were expelled from a school in France for wearing turbans.

Gurdial Singh said, ''We feel bad, but when our children went to school and were asked to remove the turban they said we can get our necks cut off but not remove our turbans. ''

Sikh groups in Delhi say liberalism should go beyond flaunting a relationship. France should accept religious and cultural diversity, that is something Sarkozy himself said at the UN. Yet the schools in his country continue to ban the Sikh religious symbol.

Mejindar Pal Kaur of United Sikhs said, ''PM should convince Sarkozy that turbans be allowed in France, since it is not an ostentatious display of religion. Its not like a cross you can remove, we always wear it.''

Sikh community are known for their persistence and have been fighting a legal battle in France, but with no luck, which is why they feel their best bet is lobbying with the PM to persuade Sarkozy.

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