No ban on Sikh turbans, only on burqas, says France

NEW DELHI, Feb 03 (INP): Seeking to address the allegations regarding the “so-called restrictions” imposed on the wearing of the Sikh turban, France clarified that there was no ban on Sikhs wearing turbans in public places.

The ban, said the French embassy in New Delhi, was only on burqa “for obvious security reasons”, Times of India reported.

In a clarification, the embassy said France upheld the freedom of religion, as well as the right not to have one, and opposed discrimination on this ground.

The “ban” on turbans, it said, was applicable only in public schools. “French law in this matter is very precise: the restriction applies to the wearing of all visible religious signs, without any discrimination, and it applies only to public schools. It leaves it to the heads of public schools to take the most appropriate measures, so that it is implemented in a sensitive manner,” said the embassy, adding that, “There has been no particular problem in its application.”

“Outside the premises of public schools, wearing the Sikh turban is very much allowed in public space, contrary to the allegations of certain radical organisations. Only the burkha is banned in public places, for obvious security reasons.”

“Furthermore, neither Sikhs wearing turbans in the streets nor Sikh shrines were ever subject to any hostility in France,” the embassy announced in a statement.

The Sikhs of France understand and have assimilated the laws on laïcité (the French principle of separation between the State and religious institutions) and practical solutions have been found to reconcile their religious practice with the principles of the French Republic, it added.

Protesting against the absence of a Sikh regiment contingent at the Republic Day parade where French President Francois Hollande was the chief guest, the Shiromani Akali Dal on Tuesday said it was a setback to the struggle of Sikhs who have been fighting for their rights in France.

Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about this matter.

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