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Rediff.com  » News » Sikhs move court against French turban ban

Sikhs move court against French turban ban

June 06, 2008 00:51 IST

The United Sikhs, a United Nations-affiliated international non-governmental organisation, has moved the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg challenging a French law, passed in March 2004, which bans wearing of conspicuous religious signs, including the Sikh turban, in public schools in France.

The United Sikhs lawyers filed a petition against France, on behalf of Jasvir Singh and Ranjit Singh, who were 14 and 17 respectively at the time when they were expelled from their school in Bobigny, for wearing a Keski following the 2004 French law.

The Keski is a small, discreet piece of cloth worn by young Sikhs as an alternative to wearing a larger turban.

"The small community of French Sikhs has gallantly fought these cases in the French courts for the last three years, supported by the global Sikh community," Director of United Sikhs Mejindarpal Kaur said.

Hoping that 'justice will be done in the ECHR,' Kaur said, "We must salute them for fighting against all odds, despite being the smallest community to be affected by the law, and pray that justice will be done in the highest human rights court in Europe."

In the appeal, United Sikhs lawyers argued that the 2004 law interferes with the applicants' human rights in a way that was disproportionate to the aim of the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

The lawyers added that there was no pressing social need, which dictated that members of the very small Sikh minority in France should not be able to wear a discreet head-covering.

 Meanwhile, United Sikhs is planning to file an appeal before the United Nations Human Rights Council for another Sikh student, Bikramjit Singh, who was 18 at the time he was expelled in 2004.

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