Sikhs Uncertain About Turbans' Status in Schools Come September

June 23, 2004

Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Wire Service: AP'%20Dilemma

On June 23, 2004 the Associated Press reported, "The Sikhs of the Paris region are at prayer, their blue, red and gold turbans resembling a field of flowers as they sit barefoot and cross-legged around their sacred book. But these days, many Sikhs worry that the world they embrace may reject their children and, come September, close the school door on boys wearing turbans to cover their unshorn hair. Two months before the start of the new academic year, it remains unclear whether Sikh turbans, considered articles of faith, will be forbidden by a new law banning religious symbols in public schools. To critics, the confusion over where the Sikhs fit into the new law reflects its folly. But the legislation has strong support in a France increasingly rattled by a potential challenge to its traditions, and it appears headed for implementation. The Sikhs, whose faith preaches religious tolerance and universal brotherhood, feel their plight underscores what critics at home and abroad suggest is an injustice of the law - seen by some as an anachronism in today's multicultural France. Education Minister Francois Fillon told The Associated Press in May that Sikh boys with long tresses would wear hairnets to school to meet the law's requirements. Sikh elders were horrified, and the ministry appears to have backed off. Now there are rumblings that Paris-area Sikhs could be grouped in a single school, turbans untouched."