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United Sikhs Sikhs Hold Peaceful Protest and Submit Memorandum to French President Hollande in Delhi

Discussion in 'Sikh Organisations' started by findingmyway, Feb 17, 2013.

  1. findingmyway

    findingmyway
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    Highlights:


    • Memorandum says that if Sikhs in France are not allowed to wear a turban in schools and on ID document photos, then the turban is deemed to be banned in France, which will be a betrayal of France's motto - Liberté, égalité, fraternité
    • Minister-Counsellor at the French Embassy acknowledges the victories at the UN Human Rights Committee ( UNHRC) ; tries to justify French laws, but also assures the delegation that France is in dialogue with Sikh organizations/individuals to resolve the issue
    • Prior to Mr Hollande's visit, UNITED SIKHS representatives met the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, Mrs. Preneet Kaur, to apprise her of the present situation, and seek the intervention of the Indian Prime Minister.
    It will be an economical truth for your government to say that the turban is not banned in France when Sikh students cannot wear it at least 10 daylight hours a day when they travel and study at public schools. It is also banned at any time on the street when a Sikh is being asked to remove his turban to prove that he is the person on his ID photo,” said Mejindarpal Kaur, UNITED SIKHS Legal Director, in the memorandum to President Hollande.

    15th February 2013, New Delhi: Sikhs held a peaceful protest outside the French Embassy in New Delhi yesterday against the ongoing French turban. This was followed by the submission of a memorandum on the Turban issue addressed to French President Francois Hollande, who was on a trade visit to India.


    “If there was any doubt about the legality of France's (turban ban) action, the eminent jurists of the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) recently pronounced that France had violated the human rights of both Bikramjit Singh and Ranjit Singh by denying them their religious right to wear a turban....The global Sikh community says that France is able to reverse the turban ban for a photo ID because France has since adopted biometric ID documents, in compliance with EU regulations, which rely on facial features and fingerprints and do not require a bare head for the photo on ID documents,” Mejindarpal Kaur, UNITED SIKHS legal director, stated in the memorandum, that as submitted by a delegation led by UNITED SIKHS, the Akali Dal (Delhi) and the Sikh Forum, .


    “Equally, the nub of our argument against the turban ban in schools is that when a Sikh schoolchild removes his turban, his joora (top knot), which denotes that he is a Sikh, is visible. Hence, the French law that purports to ban the ostensible display of religious signs in schools should not apply to the Sikhs because it does not serve its purpose as a Sikh's religious sign (unshorn hair tied as a joora) will be ostensibly visible when the turban is removed, “ the memorandum stated. The memorandum may be read in full here.
    Gurpreet Singh (UNITED SIKHS-India director), Manjit Singh GK and Onkar Singh Thapar (both of the Shiromani Akali Dal ( Delhi)), Daljeet Singh (Chairman Dharam Parchar Committee (Education & Youth Wing) Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Mangement Committee) and R S Chatwwal (the Sikh Forum) had discussions with Jean-Marc Sere-Charlet, Minister Counsellor at the French Embassy, after handing the memorandum.
    “During our discussions, Mr. Jean-Marc Sere-Charlet, whilst accepting the UNHRC findings, tried to justify the French laws, indicating that these were not Sikh specific. However, he assured the Sikh delegation that France is in dialogue with Sikh organizations and individuals in trying to resolve the turban ban, “ said Gurpreet Singh.


    You may read about the Right To Turban campaign in our previous press release here.


    Mejindarpal Kaur
    Legal Director
    UNITED SIKHS
    law@unitedsikhs.org
    +44 7709830442
     

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  3. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    I thought Sikhs could have ID's with their turbans on because it does not hide the face. Am I wrong?

    Can turbaned Sikhs be civil servants in France?


    Tejwant Singh.
     
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  4. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    According to my notes, Tejwant ji, turbans may not be worn in any government sponsored public buildings. For example, children from UK making a school trip to Paris may not wear a turban or patka in the Louvre. If this is incorrect, then your question deserves some heavy research to get to the bottom of things.

    This strange drama started a little over a year ago when France, after considerable public dialog, banned the burqa. Officials cited the security risks of the burqa and its injustice to women, not to mention that the burqa was declared incompatible with French values of liberty, equality and fraternity. That in turn caused a problem: i.e., muslim women would be singled out. Therefore the turban was also banned. To treat all religious minorities "equally." Recently an exception was made for Sikh cab drivers because they are sitting inside their own property, their cabs. Likewise muslim women could wear the burqa in public as long as they were inside their cars or family cars. When governments legislate the meaning of religious freedom and religious expression, this is exactly what can happen. Freedom of religion and religious expression is not defended by the government as a basic right. What the government gives, the government can also take away. Then we have to fight to get back what was lost.
     
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    #3 spnadmin, Feb 17, 2013
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  5. findingmyway

    findingmyway
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    UN human rights body backs French Sikhs on turbans

    By Dil Neiyyar BBC Asian Network [​IMG]
    Sikhs are a tiny minority in France

    A Sikh man in France has won the backing of the United Nations Human Rights Committee in his fight over religious headgear.
    It said France was violating Sikhs' religious freedom by forcing them to remove their turbans when having photos taken for passports and ID cards.

    Ranjit Singh, 76, said he had turned to the UN because he found the French policy disrespectful and unnecessary.
    The ruling is not legally binding. France was asked to respond by March.
    Mr Singh welcomed the decision, telling the BBC: "[The turban] is part of my body. It is my identity and I cannot part with it."

    Sikhs in France have been fighting a long battle over the turban.
    In 2004 France passed a law banning religious signs in schools. This included turbans and Muslim headscarves.

    In the following years, people renewing passports and certain official documents were also asked to remove the religious headgear for photographs.

    In the case of driving licences, French regulations said that motorists must appear "bareheaded and facing forward" in their photographs.
    But some Sikhs like Ranjit Singh refused to take off their turbans for these official photographs.

    As a result, they were refused ID cards and passports.

    For Mr Singh it was not a decision he took lightly. He has been ill for some time and without official ID he was barred from receiving medical treatment and national and local government help and services.
    "I cannot get myself treated," he said. "I cannot get X-rays, I cannot get my blood test done, I cannot get admitted to hospital."

    He and a fellow Sikh, 55-year-old Shingara Singh, started their fight against the policy in the French courts. But when they lost their cases, they took the matter to the European courts.

    In 2008 the European Court of Human Rights dismissed an appeal on grounds of security.

    It said that whilst Shingara Singh's religious rights had been infringed, France was justified to ban the turban on the driver's licence photo because the turban posed a security risk of fraud and falsification.
    That is when Ranjit Singh decided to file a case to the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC). It has now judged that a turban does not pose a risk to security.

    In its judgement, reached in July but only now revealed, the UNHRC said: "Even if the obligation to remove the turban for the identity photograph might be described as a one-time requirement, it would potentially interfere with the author's (Ranjit Singh's) freedom of religion on a continuing basis."

    The committee also said that France had failed to explain how the Sikh turban hindered identification since the wearer's face would be visible and he would be wearing it at all times.

    Therefore, it argued, the regulation constituted a violation of Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

    "I had faith that truth and justice would prevail and I patiently waited for this day," said Ranjit Singh.
    "I pray that France will now fulfil its obligation and grant me a residence card bearing my photo without baring my head."

    Mejinderpal Kaur of United Sikhs, which backed Mr Singh's case, said: "We now look to France to fulfil its treaty obligations under international law and its moral duty to ensure that the freedom of religion and belief is upheld for everyone who lives within its territory."

    The news was welcomed by Sikhs around the world.
    Mrs Praneet Kaur, Indian minister of state for external affairs, said she was "very happy with the UN's decision and... for making everyone realise what the turban means to Sikhs".

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-16547479
     
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  6. Tejwant Singh

    Tejwant Singh United States
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    Spnadmin ji,

    Guru Fateh.

    This must be a new law after the burqa ban because I have been there many times with the turban. But my point is a bit different.

    I fail to grasp the logic behind this ban because then why would a Govt. Museum have permanent religious exhibitions if it prohibits the people to visit them with their respective religious garbs? It is hypocritical and defeats the purpose of the banned law to say the least.

    I remember seeing the half finished frescoes with Roman Sun God. I just went to the Louvre's official site, typed 'Religious' and found 241 works out of which 111 are Christian. http://www.louvre.fr/en/moteur-de-recherche-oeuvres?f_search_art=religious.

    Just a thought!

    Tejwant Singh
     
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  7. spnadmin

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    Tejwant ji

    I am referring to a buraq ban/turban ban that was debated in the press by President Sarkosy last year. Stories of Sikhs asking for redress from the government for prohibitions against turbans coincide with those news reports. Yes.... visitors are forbidden to wear turbans in places like the Louvre, or my sources are lying. And at the end of the day, who said that governments make sense? The religious art has monetary value both as objects with high market demand, but more immediately as a source of income from tourism. So of course hypocrisy has to reign in this regard. Who is going to crash the tourism economy for the sake of philosophical principles or the need to have consistent policies?

    Many surmise, and I agree with them, that the real motivation for the burqa ban was all about economic hard times in Europe. Once there was a hey day of immigration, and members of the middle east were welcomed to assume jobs that the native French could afford to reject. Immigrants came, their number grew, they prospered and multiplied into the second generation. Then the economy tanked. All the rhetoric about saftey of women, security of France, equality of women were more elegant ways of putting a lid on the eventual need to come to terms with a growing multi-ethnic workforce. There were new economic rules that in the minds of many "challenged" values of French culture. Perhaps! Is it not strange that burqas and turbans were not a problem in good times. In bad times the challenge comes in the form of baiting immigrants for "taking jobs away from us." That is the cake. The icing on the cake is naturally an elegant appeal to core French values.

    The Sikh turban becomes another symbol of damn foreigners making good in the face of norms of a different time and a different day. However, the Sikh turban was never the original target, but more a matter of collateral damage during times of war. "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche" (Marie Antoinette)

    To close: The entire burqa/Sarkosy affair has been covered here. It might be a menace to try to find those threads but it is possible.
     
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