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Home > News > PTI

Sikhs to appeal against French govt's turban-ban

June 09, 2007 03:39 IST

A forum of Sikhs is planning to challenge French Government's restrictions on wearing turbans at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on Monday.

France's [Images] highest court, the Conseil D'Etat, had ruled that Sikhs must remove their turbans to be photographed for drivers' licences as a matter of public security.

A controversial French law banning the Sikh turban in public schools, along with other ostensible religious symbols, has been in place since March 2004.

Lawyers will represent Shingara Mann Singh, a Sikh from the northern Paris suburbs, at the court whose replacement driver's licence was refused in 2005 and again in 2006 by the French government.

"It is necessary to take these cases to the international courts as if left unchecked the French law, which undermines religious freedom will have a domino effect on religious rights globally," said Mejindarpal Kaur, United Sikhs director for International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy.

Sikh males are required by religion to allow their hair to grow and many wear a turban, a symbol of Sikh identity.

Minority rights Group International's Director of Advocacy Clive Baldwin, who acted as legal research consultant for the case said, "The French authorities have not shown why it is now necessary for such a major interference with a community's religious identity, when it was not necessary until 2004."

"Most countries with Sikh populations have accommodated their right to wear a turban. There is no reason why France should be different," he said.

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