French ruling due on Sikh explusion over turbans

13th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

MELUN, France, April 12 (AFP) - A French court will rule next week whether to overturn the expulsion of three Sikh teenage boys who refused to remove their turbans despite a law banning religious insignia in state schools.

MELUN, France, April 12 (AFP) - A French court will rule next week whether to overturn the expulsion of three Sikh teenage boys who refused to remove their turbans despite a law banning religious insignia in state schools.

Presiding judge Guy Roth said the administrative court in Melun southeast of Paris would deliver its verdict on April 19.

The government commissioner, a legal expert whose recommendations are often followed by the court, asked that the request by the three boys to return to class be denied, as they plan to continue wearing their head coverings.

Felix De Belloy, an attorney for the three boys, countered that as they had no intention of trying to win converts to their faith, the boys posed no threat to the law calling for the strict separation between church and state.

The so-called "secularity" law, which came into effect at the start of the academic year in September, forbids the wearing of "conspicuous" religious insignia in state schools, like Muslim headscarves and Sikh turbans.

Though the law does not single out any specific faith, many in France's five-million-strong Muslim community believe the hijab worn by teenage girls was the main target.

The Sikh religion forbids male followers from cutting their hair and obliges them to wear a turban.

The three boys expelled all wore keskis, or under-turbans - a more discreet version of the turban often worn for sleeping. Education authorities initially agreed to allow Sikh boys to wear the thin cloth but later reneged.

The teens, aged 15 to 18, were expelled on November 5, a decision confirmed a month later by the education authority responsible for their high school in Bobigny, northeast of Paris. They are currently taking correspondence classes.

French officials estimate there are 5,000 to 6,000 Sikhs living in Paris and its suburbs.

© AFP

Subject: French News

0 Comments To This Article