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French turban ban gets Sikh group into action

The Times of India, India
Jan. 6, 2004
Yudhvir Rana • Tuesday January 6, 2004

AMRITSAR : United Sikhs, a Sikh organisation has launched a global signature campaign for people of all faiths to appeal French President Jacques Chirac to reconsider his call for legislation to ban wearing articles of faith, religion and ethnic identity in public schools and regulate their wearing at workplace.

The law would ban Sikhs from wearing their turbans besides banning Islamic head coverings, Jewish skullcaps and oversized Christian crosses in public schools and workplaces in France .

The signed petitions would be delivered to Sikhs in France who would further deliver the signatures to the French president and French parliament.

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has also taken up the issue with National Commission of Minorities to urge French government for exempting Sikhs from wearing turbans said honorary secretary of SGPC Manjit Singh Calcutta while talking to TNN on Sunday.

Calcutta expressed hope that the French government would understand the significance of turban in Sikhs’ life. Jathedar of Akal Takht Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti had already urged President Chirac not to impose ban on wearing turban by Sikhs living in France .

Detailing the contribution of Sikhs in France, an e-mail sent to TNN by United Sikhs on Saturday said Sikhs have contributed valiantly to the French aspirations of liberty, equality and fraternity during the first and second World Wars.

Turban-wearing Sikh soldiers served in France in 13 cavalry and 8 infantry regiments during World War I. The major battles during World War I in France in which Sikhs fought valiantly were: Ypres , La Bassie, Neuve, Chapelle, Festubert, Loos, Givenchy and Somme . Their bravery and actions have been globally recognised adding that such legislation would deny approximately 7,000 Sikhs residing in France their fundamental right to practise the Sikh faith.

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