Sikhs Undertake "Last-Ditch" Protest Against Ban of Religious Symbols

February 2, 2004

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

On February 2, 2004 The Christian Science Monitor reported, "[T]he Sikhs of France are...launching a last-ditch defense of their distinctive turbans in the face of a proposed French law banning conspicuous religious symbols that threatens to keep their boys out of school. In doing so, they are asking the French state to reconsider fundamental elements of what it means by national identity...Luc Ferry, the minister of education, appeared sympathetic to the Sikhs' plight when he testified before a parliamentary commission last month, proposing that Sikh boys in public schools be allowed to wear 'discreet' or 'transparent' turbans. But he also suggested that beards or bandannas might be banned as manifestations of their wearers' religion, drawing ridicule from critics who wondered whether girls of North African origin might be forbidden from wearing bandannas that white girls would be allowed.