'Ban on Turban not against Sikhs'

Ahead of French President Francois Hollande’s visit to India, Paris clarified to New Delhi that restriction on Sikh students studying in schools in France was not a discriminatory move against the particular community, but a part of a ban on wearing any religious symbol in educational institutions of the country.

Amid reports that Sikhs might protest against ban on wearing turban in schools in France during Hollande’s visit to New Delhi and Mumbai on Thursday and Friday, the French government is understood to have conveyed to authorities in India its readiness to discuss the issue and clarify its position on the controversy.

The International Sikh Confederation, an organization of the Sikhs, recently wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to raise the issue during his talks with Hollande on Thursday. The Shiromani Akali Dal, which rules Punjab, too wrote to Prime Minister demanding the same.

Diplomatic sources in New Delhi, however, said that French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius himself had raised the issue during his talks with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and conveyed Paris’s position on the row.

According to the sources, anyone could wear turban or any other religious symbol in public spaces, without of course covering his or her face, which was illegal in France.

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