AMRITSAR, India, April 13 (AFP) – Thousands of Indian Sikhs wearing yellow turbans protested here Tuesday against a French government ban on religious headgear in state schools, a Sikh leader said.
Demonstrators waving placards reading “Proud To Be A Sikh” gathered at the gates of the holiest Sikh shrine, the Golden Temple complex in the northern town of Amritsar, on the holy day of Baisakhi.
Last week a Sikh organisation called on followers worldwide to don golden turbans – chosen for their brightness – on April 13 to show their opposition to the French ban.
“For a Sikh, wearing a turban is not an option but a mandatory requirement of the religion and the faith,” Sikh leader Manjit Singh Calcutta told the gathering, adding that the ban would affect around 7,000 Sikhs in France.
The French parliament in February passed a law which will come into effect in September prohibiting conspicuous religious symbols in classrooms, including Islamic headscarves, Jewish skullcaps and large Christian crosses.
The Sikh religion forbids male followers to cut their hair and obliges them to wear a turban.
Manjit Singh Randhawa, of the Sikh Nation Organisation, said the community had asked the United Nations to intervene in the matter.
Members of the Sikh community would continue to wear the yellow turbans until April 17 as a mark of protest, he added.
France’s decision, intended to reflect the country’s strict separation of religion and state, has also set off a series of Muslim protests around the world.
Subject: French news