|Sikhs march through Paris to oppose possible turban ban|
About five hundred British Sikhs crossed the English Channel last
week-end to join co-religionists from other European countries supporting
a demonstration aimed at persuading the French government not to ban
the Sikh turban in state schools.
The proposed law, which is to be debated in the French National Assembly on Tuesday (February 3), is designed to remove all show of religion from public schools, in line with the country's secular constitution. Specifically it would ban the Muslim hijab, and it is feared that the rule could also include the turban.
Thirty years ago British Sikhs won an exemption from a law requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets, and turbans are now commonplace for Sikh police officers serving in the UK. The leaders of the Federation believe that this experience puts them in a favourable position to help the Sikh community in France.
Federation Chairman Amrik Singh says: "We are hopeful the French
parliament will heed our concerns, but we are ready to rise to any challenge
to the Sikhs." He and his colleagues believe the proposed law may
contravene European Union directives on racial and religious discrimination
and plan to ask the European Commission to take appropriate action,
if it is implemented.