|Letter of S. Simranjit Singh Mann to Minister for Foreign Affairs, France|
I am grateful for this opportunity to present the Sikh case on the Turban issue, which as you are aware is agitating the Sikhs in France and the rest of the world.
I have presented the full case of the Sikh people on the Turban issue to Hon’ble Mr. Dominique Girard, Ambassador of France to India in New Delhi on 16 January 2004. A copy of the memorandum is enclosed for your perusal and study.
To what I have stated in the memorandum, I would like to add that the glorious relationship of the Sikh nation and France should continue and Sikh students desirous of studying in public schools in France should be allowed to wear their turbans. Religiously, culturally, socially and legally, the Sikh people have the right to their turban. Unlike a veil, scarf or kippa, a turban is not optional. In fact all Sikhs wear it around the world, including while serving in the armed forces, of countries, of which they become citizens. Wearing of a turban does not indicate any form of extremism, as the turban is an integral part of the code of dress for a Sikh. Sikhs cannot remove their turban in any public place (not even in their homes) and hence asking them to remove the turban for attending school would be a grave injustice.
Since I have visited your country several times, the French Sikhs have
complained to me that as per the regulations of your country, they are
asked to remove their turbans for taking their I.D. pictures. This is
again not acceptable to the Sikhs as it hurts their sentiments. I will
be grateful if your government puts an end to this practice. Your government
must have seen that the Sikhs are a very homogenous nationality. They
have in their individual capacity or groups approached your government
to let the Sikhs practice
The French nation has absolutely nothing to fear from the Sikhs. The contribution of Sikhs in France and in other parts of Europe is a showcase of their commitment to respective countries and society. It is pertinent to quote the French historian, Odon Vallet, who has recently stated that, “The turban is absolutely essential for the Sikhs, and they have already won their right to wear it as part of police or army uniform in several countries. We have to exempt them from the proposed law.” This statement is a clear affirmation of the Sikh case.
History is testimony to the fact that the turban-wearing Sikh has always
been aware and
Turban-wearing Sikhs all over the world have excelled in all walks of life and are an asset to their family, society and the country they have made their homes.
I will be happy to submit more information on the subject and appear
before any commission or authority to present the Sikh case on the Turban.
(Simranjit Singh Mann)