|Right to Turban|
| 29th January 2004
Dear Colleen Beaumier,
On this date, he spoke in favor of a new legislation that would ban the wearing of articles of faith, religion and ethnic identity in public schools and regulate their wearing at the workplace. This is of grave concern to me, because as a Sikh, the turban is a mandatory article of faith. With 26 million followers worldwide, Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world. In the United States alone, there are over 500,000 Sikhs.
In history, Sikhs fought valiantly for the freedom of others. While wearing the mandatory article of faith, the turban, Sikh men fought for the Allied forces, including the United States, England and France, in World War I and II. More than 100,000 Sikhs died to protect the honor and integrity of humans of all religions and faiths during these wars. It is a disgrace that people who fought for the freedom of others now have to fight for the freedom to practice their own religion.
The new legislation has not even passed yet; however, Sikhs are already facing discriminatory action within France. Sikhs within France are unable to go to their colleges/universities because they wear turbans. For example, nineteen year old Karmvir Singh has been rejected from five French Universities in October 2003 on the grounds that he wore a turban. The universities told Karmvir Singh that admission would be granted only if he takes off his turban. However, the turban is a mandatory article of faith that cannot be taken off and on like a hat. In attempts to protect French core values of ‘Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity’ via new secular legislation, the French government is acting in hypocrisy by denying their own core values and oppressing the people’s right to Freedom of Religion and Education.
If this legislation is allowed to pass, individuals from the Sikh faith wearing turbans, as well as individuals with Islamic head coverings, Jewish yarmulkes, and oversized Christian Crosses will be banned from public schools and workplaces. I humbly appeal to you to consider the following points of action:
1) To pass a resolution in the congress to express regret at French President Jacques Chirac’s decision to ban the wearing of articles of faith, religion and ethnic identity at public schools and workplaces and to stop the violation of fundamental rights of all religions.
2) To sign the petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/sikh5555/petition.html
3) In addition, I kindly also request you to speak to the President of France and members of the French Parliament to persuade them not to pass this proposed legislation which would take away the basic human rights of Freedom of Religion and the Right to an Education in France.