Unabated Discrimination Against Sikhs Call for Campaigns to Nurture Diversity in the EU

September 16, 2007

Author: Tejinder Singh

Source: Sikh News Network


What is the fault of three Sikh boys, Jasvir Singh, Bikramjit Singh and Ranjit Singh, aged between 15 and 18 years, who have been unable to attend school in the European Union since 2004?

What is the fault of Shingara Singh Mann for not having a driver’s license in the European Union issued after it was lost in a theft in 2004?

The only fault of theirs for being kicked out of schools in Europe and being denied a legitimate driving licence is that they are Sikhs and wear turbans to cover their uncut hair.

Instead of receiving an education, the three boys are waiting for a decision of the Conseil d’Etat, the highest administrative court of France, while Shingara Singh Mann has appealed to the European judicial system in Strasbourg after exhausting his options in French legal corridors.

Mejindarpal Kaur, the Director of United Sikhs, a worldwide Sikh organisation, stated in a press release that a preliminary survey of Sikh children affected by the French law found that 84 percent of the students interviewed were prevented from wearing head coverings of their choice to school. The survey also revealed that five boys had been expelled from schools in France alone for refusing to remove their turban, and many more suffered from alienation by their peers. There are similar confirmed reports in Belgium and Germany. On December 5, 2005 the French High Court ruled in favour of Shingara Singh Mann giving him the right to wear his turban for his driving license identity photo, overturning an earlier decision by the French Ministry of Transport. But within 24 hours of the court decision, the Ministry issued a circular expressly forbidding turbans to be worn in driver’s license photographs.

Similar instances of discrimination have been documented across Europe.