Turbaned Students Kept Out of School, Sikhs Angered at Govt's Unkept Promise

September 14, 2004

Source: Yale Global/Outlook India


On September 14, 2004 Outlook India reported, "At the gate of this school, you'll find three Sikh lads standing all day long, staging a satyagraha against the Law of Secularism (la loi sur la laicite) which prohibits state-funded educational institutions from admitting students displaying religious symbols�scarves, turbans and the like. The new law came into force on September 2, the first day of the new academic year in France... Teacher unions are said to have forced the issue. Sikh students say their teachers don't object... The school cites opposition from the teachers' union and some students to justify the action. The Sikh students counter, saying neither their classmates nor teachers endorse the exclusion... The schools here fall under the jurisdiction of the director of education for Creteil, Jean Charles Ringard. It seems he and others in the education ministry had assured the Sikhs that the new law would not apply to them. 'Even a day before September 2, I was told by the authorities that my kids could go to school wearing turbans,' says restaurateur Parmjit Singh... [the Sikhs plan to fight the law] through protests and appeals to court. Says Chain Singh, [a] member of the managing committee of the Bobigny gurudwara, 'We'll again take to the streets to make our demands heard. If we fail, we'll consider options like sending our children to neighbouring countries for education. It's preferable to leave France than leave the turban.'"