UnitedSikhs
Sikhs want Manmohan to take up turban issue with Sarkozy
Special Correspondent
http://www.hindu.com/2008/01/25/stories/2008012560801400.htm
25 Jan 2008
 
“He cannot turn a blind eye to the injustice suffered by Sikhs in France”
France banned wearing of turbans in schools in 2004
Passports refused to those who do not remove turbans

NEW DELHI: Sikh organisations and individuals have urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take up the ban on Sikh turbans in government-run schools in France with President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The former Chief Election Commissioner, M.S. Gill, in a statement, said he welcomed Mr. Sarkozy’s visit and hoped for further expansion of ties but Dr. Singh should take up the issue.

France passed a law in 2004 banning the wearing of turbans in schools. Subsequently it has not issued passports, driving licences and residence cards to Sikhs who refuse to remove their turbans for ID photos.

“Sikh boys cannot go to government schools in France unless they damage their faith and belief by not wearing a turban of any kind. Where is their motto of equality and fraternity in this case?” About 6,000 Sikhs lived in France, and a few hundreds of their children attended government schools. “They should take a fresh look and reverse this black law. This is not a Sikh issue, but of human rights,” he said.

Paramjit Sarna of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee also requested the Prime Minister to take up the issue with Mr. Sarkozy.

“Dr. Singh, a turban-wearing Sikh, cannot turn a blind eye to the injustice suffered by Sikhs in France, who have not been allowed to practice their faith freely,” said United Sikh director Mejinderpal Kaur. “Dr. Singh, who has never been seen without his turban, is the best evidence France needs to be convinced that a Sikh is inseparable from his turban.”

“We call upon Dr. Singh to highlight the effect the law is having on Sikhs in France,” said Ms. Kaur, who is leading the legal challenge to the French ban. The organisation held a protest march from the historical Bangla Sahib Gurdwara to Janta Mantar and back.

Under the European Convention on Human Rights, France is allowed to deny someone a right to manifest his/her faith for reasons of safety, security or health or if it undermines the right of another, she contended, adding that the turban did neither.

“Sikhs respect France’s desire to observe secularity in public places, and the turban does not threaten secularity,” said Gurdial Singh, an Indian living in France. He has come to campaign here for the lifting of the ban.

Article Courtesy of -
http://www.hindu.com/2008/01/25/stories/2008012560801400.htm

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