UNITED SIKHS led a meeting with the French ambassador on Thursday 4 February 2016 to rebut France’s recent statement that the turban was not banned in France.
UNITED SIKHS director, Gurpreet Singh, submitted to the French ambassador, H.E. Francois Richier, that it was misleading to say that there is no Sikh turban ban in France as the 2004 ban in public schools and on ID photos continues to date.
“We reminded the ambassador that the turban ban continues even though UNITED SIKHS lawyers had won three cases against the ban before the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC),” said Gurpreet Singh. “Mr. Richier assured us that he would take up with his government the need to consider using biometric ID documents without photos and to consider allowing the patka at schools,” said Gurpreet Singh.
Let’s see how much the French live up to their word. France’s anti-Sikh stance is particularly bothersome considering Sikhs gave so much business to French companies such as Cartier and employed so many French nationals during the Sikh empire.
The French Embassy had issued the following press release in regards to the turban ban.
New Delhi, 02 February 2016
France upholds the freedom of religion, as well as the right not to have one, and opposes discriminations on this ground.
There is no ban on the wearing of turbans. 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.
This measure has been explained to the Indian authorities and representatives of the Sikh community in France, with whom a regular dialogue has been established. There has been no particular problem in its application. The other four of the five obligations for Sikhs have not encountered any problems either. The Sikhs of France understand and have assimilated the laws on laïcité (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.
Outside the premises of public schools, wearing the Sikh turban is very much allowed in public space, contrary to the allegations of certain radical organizations. 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.