Burqas Banned, Not Sikh Turbans: French Embassy

NEW DELHI:French embassy yesterday said there was no ban on wearing turbans in public space while reacting to a charge by a Sikh organisation that the community has been fighting for their rights in France.

“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 burqa 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,” embassy said in a statement here.

It also noted that the embassy issued this clarification following recent allegations regarding the so-called restrictions imposed on the wearing of Sikh turban in France.

“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 to the heads of public schools to take the most appropriate measures, so that it is implemented in a sensitive manner,” the statement added.

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, the embassy said.

The Sikhs of France understand and have assimilated the laws on laicite (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, Shiromani Akali Dal on Monday 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 in this regard.