United Sikhs urges PM to convince Sarkozy against turban ban

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Patiala, Jan 24 (UNI) United Sikhs, an international advocacy NGO, has called upon Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to convince visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy to revoke the ban on wearing Sikh turban in schools and on ID document photos in France.

Mr Sarkozy will arrive in New Delhi tomorrow as the chief guest for India's Republic Day celebrations.

''Dr Manmohan Singh, a turban-wearing Sikh, cannot turn a blind eye to the injustice meted out to the Sikhs in France, who have not been allowed to practice their faith freely since a law was passed in 2004 banning Sikh Turban in schools. Subsequently France has also not issued passports, driving licence and residence cards to Sikhs who refuse to remove head gears for their ID photos,'' United Sikhs director Mejindarpal Kaur said today.

''We call upon Dr Singh to highlight the effect the law is having on Sikhs in France,'' she said.

Ms Kaur, who is leading the legal challenge on the ban said, ''Dr Singh, a Sikh who has never been seen without his turban, is the best evidence France needs to be convinced that a Sikh is inseparable from his turban.'' ''The French State's ban of the Sikh Turban constitutes a violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Protocol Rights (ICCPR) of the United Nations and the European Convention on Human Rights, which France has ratified.'' ''Under the European Convention on Human Rights, France is only allowed to deny someone a right to manifest his faith for reasons of safety, security or health or if it undermines the right of another,'' said Ms Kaur.

''We urge the Prime Minister to use all diplomatic and economic channels to ensure that the Sikhs receive a just reward for the sacrifice thousands of turban-wearing Sikhs made when they fought for the French people and their liberation in World War I and II,'' said Gurpreet Singh, United Sikhs director based in Chandigarh.

''It will be a travesty to forget the sacrifices made by 80,000 Turbaned Sikh soldiers for France in the two World Wars,'' he added.

UNI XC PS SB AS1606

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