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Monday, December 05, 2005

Sikh Wins Right to Wear Turban in France

France's highest administrative body, the Council of State, ruled on Monday that a Sikh, Shingara Mann Singh, can wear his turban in drivers' licence and passport photos, thus overruling an order stating that Singh could not be issued a license or passport because he did not remove his turban for the accompanying photographs [see here and here].

In the ruling, the council reasoned that the transport minister, not the local interior officials, could establish regulations regarding such conditions or restrictions. The Transport Ministry's relevant statements, however, were "too imprecise" to lead to the conclusion that heads must be uncovered for such photos.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, which mentioned the Singh matter in a report when the case was still pending, said of France's respect of human rights:
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice; however, some religious groups remain concerned about legislation passed in 2001 and 2004, which provided for the dissolution of groups under certain circumstances and banned the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols by public school employees and students.

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