PARIS, Jan 3 (AFP) - A US-based group that fights for the rights of minorities, especially Sikhs, said Tuesday it would attack a French law banning religious attire in schools as discriminatory on racial grounds when it came to Sikh turbans.
United Sikhs said it was relying on EU anti-discrimination laws in the case, brought on behalf of a French Sikh student, Gurinder Singh, who was expelled from his school in a Paris suburb in October for refusing to take off his traditional Sikh turban.
The group argued in a statement that Sikh turbans were not religious in nature but derived from the "ethnic character of the Sikh community".
The French law banning religious attire in state schools caused controversy when it was introduced in September 2004, especially among the five-million-strong Muslim minority in France which saw the banning of Islamic headscarves for girls as an attack on religious freedom.
Paris and its suburbs are home to the bulk of France's Sikh population, estimated at 6,000.
Under Sikh traditions, males are required to let their hair grow uncut and wear a turban in public.
An estimated 300 Sikh boys attend French state schools.
The European Court of Human Rights has already ruled that countries under its jurisdiction have the right to impose bans on religious attire in state schools.
In June 2004 the court rejected a case brought by a Turkish woman expelled from Istanbul University for wearing an Islamic headscarf by saying the ban upheld "secularism and equality".
Subject: French news
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