The French ban on turbans for Sikh boys at school has brought extraordinary problems for parents and extraordinary solutions.
When Sikh boys play on the streets of Paris, their parents can worry in more ways than one.
Because they never know when it could become all play and no work - they run the risk of being stopped from going to school.
President Sarkozy introduced a law as home minister in 2004 banning essentially the headscarf for Muslim girls going to school; but the law also roped in the Sikh children.
“The first day I went, they asked me to take the turban off, now I cover my head with a handkerchief and go,” says a Sikh boy.
As the French see it, they are defending the principle of secular separation of religion from state. But for the minorities, it is a denial of religious rights.
Sundri Kaur a resident of Paris says, "In France I think a lot of people want to try to understand but we need time to understand and I think it is very important for Sikh people to be present, be involved, in action, political, social and cultural, and time after time I think French people can understand."
Teaching the French a lesson or two is Gurdial Singh, who is starting a school where children of all religions can practice their faith openly. The classrooms are ready for the students who can in a sense circumvent the French system.
Singh says, “I want every religion children to come here and respect the children and college also but if anybody respects their religion and comes here, I respect them."
Sikhs are preparing to beat the French ban on the turban by opening school especially for Sikhs and for others to practice their faith as freely and as visibly as they like. [Link]
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