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UnitedSikhs

Sikhs follow French Ambassador to Stanford Univ.
Oct, 31, 2005
 

More than one hundred Sikh demonstrators protested against France 's ban on religious insignias in public schools on thursday morning outside the Consulate General of France. Sangat came from as far as Central valley to…

More than one hundred Sikh demonstrators protested against France 's ban on religious insignias in public schools on thursday morning outside the Consulate General of France. Sangat came from as far as Central valley to protest against French ban on head covering in public schools. After two hours of protesting against French consulate, the group of sikh activists went to Stanford University , where Ambassador Jean-David Levitte was invited to speak on the subject of international studies program. Approximately 15 visible sikhs listened to his speech. Representatives of Voices for Freedom, UNITED SIKHS and Fremont Gurdwara committee were there to raise their voice.

After the event, the group of Sikhs approached the ambassador to discuss the turban issue. Bay Area Sikhs said on Thursday, there is no evidence to suggest that French core values are threatened by anyone expressing their religious faith.

Sukhdev Singh Bainiwal, a supreme council member of the Gurdwara Sahib, said it is important to note that thousands of Sikh soldiers gave their lives in World War I and World War II. "Sikhs fought for the freedom of France," Bainiwal said. "We did not wear helmets. We wore turbans. They did not have a problem then."

Enacted in March 2004, the ban sparked outrage among Muslims and Sikhs and prompted lawsuits on behalf of three Sikh students. Taran Jit Singh, project coordinator for the New York chapter of the United Sikhs, said the organization is appealing a lower French court ruling upholding the ban.

French proponents of the ban say the law protects the French traditional value of secularism, the belief that religion and ecclesiastical affairs should not enter into the functions of the state, especially public education. Others say it is attempt to quell the growing wave of Islamic fundamentalism in France . Sikhism originated in Punjab and is not connected to Islam.

Union City resident Sarabjit Cheema saidshe took the day off from her job at the California Department of Transportation, and brought her two youngest sons from Csar Chvez Middle School to join the protest.

If American schools were to adopt similar laws, Cheema said, she'd pull her children out of school permanently and home-school them. "I took the day off work to support a cause that is very dear to me," Cheema said. "All kids should enjoy the freedoms that my sons have."

Gurmeet Singh, a 47-year-old businessman, said a ban on wearing turbans is the equivalent of a law forcing everyone to wear a turban. "Let me put it this way: How would people feel if they turned the law around and forced everyone to wear ... headgear?" Gurmeet Singh said. "How would you feel? For us, (wearing a turban) is not a choice, it's a must."

Sikh activists with Ambassador


Pictures are taken by Bh. Sukhdev Singh
Article by Courtesy of http://www.sikhsangat.org
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