French Sikh Leaders Organize Protest March Against Ban of Religious Symbols

January 31, 2004

Source: Yahoo! News

On January 31, 2004 Yahoo! News posted an Agence France Presse article that reported, "Around 2,000 Sikhs from across Europe marched through central Paris to demand exemption from a proposed French law that would ban religious signs and clothing -- including the turban worn by Sikh males -- from schools. Organised by leaders of France's small community of around 6,000 Sikhs, the demonstration from the Place de la Republique was joined by contingents from Britain, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands all concerned at the threat to what they see as an essential part of Sikh identity...'The turban does not signify orthodoxy or fundamentalism. It is simply our way of life,' said Gurcharan Singh who is mayor of the London suburb of Ealing in Britain. 'In Britain they have granted exemptions for Sikhs to wear motorcycles with a turban and also at schools. I like it in Britain as a Sikh. I am part of the British way of life. I am sure the French Sikhs are the same here. I do not see why there should be this problem,' he said."