The French turban ban

The French President Nicholas Sarkozy’s visit to India as a Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade on January 26 has turned the spotlight again on the issue of turbans being banned in state funded schools in France since 2004.
Sikh students have been expelled from French schools simply because they wore a turban, as were Muslim girls who wore a headscarf, or a hijab to school. The basis of the French law is the application of the principle of secularism, which calls for the separation of the church and the state. However, this is an overtly aggressive interpretation of the law, since it denies essential freedoms to many schoolchildren, and encroaches on core human values.
Obviously all students attending public schools in France cannot enjoy equal educational opportunities.
There is not doubt that this application of the law in France goes against the principles of natural justice. It is even in violation of the Charter of the European Union. The fundamental principles of governance in France inspired many countries towards democracy and liberty. The French government must act promptly and restore the fundamental right to good schooling to all children in France, whether or not they cover their heads when they attend school.

Visitors would find an article that I wrote in 2004 titled Bans and the turban: A matter of honour interesting and I especially recommend the brilliant water colour paintings by R M Singh, which were especially commissioned for the article.

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