Singh “I Support France, But Why My Turban Banned?”


Check out Rajdeep Singh’s letter to the editor on France, published by the Washington Post. The photo below is of Sikh soldiers being greeted as heroes in Paris, circa 1916.

“As a Sikh, I support the right of Charlie Hebdo to publish satirical cartoons about religion. At the same time, it troubles me that I would be prohibited from attending a public school, working as a public servant or obtaining an identification card in France because of my turban — an expression of my faith. The same would be true if I were a Jewish man wearing a yarmulke or a Muslim woman wearing a headscarf.” – Rajdeep Singh

Turban Banned in France

Sikh Soldiers at the Battle on the Somme, France 1916
On October 7 Sikh despatch riders with their bicycles at the cross roads of Fricourt and
Mametz Road during the Battle of the Somme in July 1916. The bicycles of the two men in
the foreground are fitted with a special bracket to support their rifles. The man in front has
the rank of Sergeant shown by the stripes on his right shoulder. The loss of life on the
Somme was terrible

Sikh Soldiers World War 1 , Vraignes, France.
On October 7 Sikh despatch riders with their bicycles at the cross roads of Fricourt and
Mametz Road Three members of an Indian regiment carrying their lances, the 9th
Hodson’s Horse, consult a map near Vraignes, France in 1917. World War One was the
last time that cavalry forces were used in battle, the idea being that infantry forces would
break through the enemy’s frontline defences followed by the cavalry using their superior
speed to reach the enemy’s rear positions and destroy supply and communications lines.
In reality, by the end of thewar, many cavalry troops were being used as infantrymen.

“In the last two world wars 83,005 turban
wearing Sikh soldiers were killed and
109,045 were wounded for the freedom
of Britain and the world during shell fire,
with no other protection but the turban,
the symbol of their faith.”
— General Sir Frank Messervy KCSI,
KBE, CB,DSO

There are no finer fighting men in our Indian Army than the Sikhs, the descendants of
those fierce long haired warriors who fought so stubbornly against us at Firozshah and
Chilianwala, and afterwards stood so loyally by the British Raj in the dark days of the
Mutiny. And there are no finer officers in the world than the men who lead them, for no
youngster stands a chance of being gazetted to a Sikh regiment who has not shown that
he possesses in a marked degree all the qualities which are likely to ensure the
confidence and devotion of those whom he aspires to command.
Source from ‘Deeds That Thrill the Empire’

The Indians didn’t give them much time to arrive at an understanding. With a shrill yell they rode
right through the German infantry, thrusting right and left with their terrible lances, arid bringing a
man down every time. The Germans broke and ran for their lives, pursued by the Lancers for about
a mile. Our swarthy soldiers from the East have been delighted to win the cheers of the British and
French troops. Source from ‘T.P.’s Journal of Great Deeds Of The Great War’, November 21, 1914

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