Sikh body and students protest in Delhi over ban on turban in France

Last Updated: Fri, Feb 15, 2013 10:50 hrs

In the wake of French President Francois Hollande's visit to India, supporters of the Shiromani Akali Dal Badal (SADB) along with Sikh students staged a protest here on Friday over the ban on wearing turban in that country.

The protestors urged the government to ask France to withdraw a ban on wearing turbans in public schools.

Shiromani Akali Dal Badal (SADB) President Manjit Singh GK said that Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh should exert pressure on the French Government and urge them to lift the ban.

"The French President has come on a visit to India and our government is signing deal worth crores with him. There is a ban on wearing turbans in public schools in France. If the Sikh children do not start wearing turbans from schools then they will not wear turban when they grow up. They will wear caps or they will get hair cut. So, as France is a secular country putting a ban on religious symbols is illegal," said Manjit Singh GK.

" We have proposed a plea in United Nations and it has ordered and given the government of France 180 days. We want that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should exert pressure on the French government and it should lift the ban," he added.

Gurdeep Singh, a protesting Sikh student, said that turban is the most recognizable feature of a Sikh, and unlike other headgear, it is an integral part of an identity of a Sikh.

"Turban is the symbol of pride for us and defines the core identity of Sikhs. We want that the government of France should lift the ban," he addd.

The Sikh religion requires followers to grow their hair and wear a turban, while children must wear traditional Sikh headgear called the "patka" or "dastaar" in schools.

France banned wearing turbans and Muslim headscarves in its public schools in 2004, saying it was aimed at checking what they said was the rising influence of radical Islam among France's large Muslim population. Indian Sikhs say the ban denies them religious freedom.

The Punjab Government passed a resolution in the state assembly in 2009, demanding France lift the ban there.

The French President is presently on a state-visit to India to deepen strategic partnership between the two nations. (ANI)

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