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Sikh students to wear nets in France

May 18, 2004 13:58 IST
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Despite intercessions by former foreign minister Yashwant Sinha with his French counterpart in February, Sikh students will be barred from wearing their turbans when the law banning religious clothing in French public schools comes into effect in September, report agencies.

They may, however, wear a hair net.

Announcing this Monday, French education minister Francois Fillon said after talks with community leaders, "we've come up with an arrangement. They accept wearing a hair net. It's less aggressive, less showy."

Fillon was addressing a press conference after education officials framed guidelines to help school officials apply the law, which forbids conspicuous religious symbols and attire in the classroom. These include the Muslim headscarf, Jewish skullcaps and big Christian crosses.

But the small Sikh community in France, estimated at between 5000 and 7000, expressed dismay and outrage, and insisted that they had been assured that the law would not affect turbans.  Various Sikh organisations have launched a signature campaign to protest against the move.

"We were told that we could wear turbans because we never posed a problem," Karmvir Singh, a Paris based Sikh, was quoted as saying.  



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