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French President urged to raise opposition to death penalty with India when in Delhi this week

Sikhs urge Indian Prime Minister to raise religious discrimination against the minority Sikh community in France

11 Febru1ry 2013

President Francois Hollande will be visiting New Delhi on February 14-15 on his first trip to India since being elected in May 2012.

The Sikh Federation (UK) has been in contact with Sikhs in France to urge them to raise French opposition to India carrying out the death penalty.

Bhai Amrik Singh, Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

India has now challenged the civilised world and in particular the 27 EU countries by carrying out two hangings in last three months. The Indian media and politicians have now said Balwant Singh Rajoana and Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar should be next.

We have requested Sikh representatives in France to contact President Francois Hollande as a matter of urgency so he takes up this issue on their behalf.

Similarly, the Sikh Federation (UK) is urging Sikhs in Punjab and those in Delhi to raise the issue of religious discrimination against the minority Sikh community in France when President Francois Hollande in there later this week.

Bhai Amrik Singh, Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

The United Nations has in the last 12 months taken two decisions in support of the Sikhs right to freely wear their turbans. Since President Francois Hollande is making his first visit to India since being elected in May 2012 this is an opportunity for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to directly raise the issue with the French President.

The French have always given the signal that the French law introduced in 2004 has had unintended consequences for Sikh children in schools. But given the UN rulings the French have an opportunity to find a way of allowing Sikh children to freely wear their turbans and also not having to force Sikhs to remove their turbans for the purposes of ID photographs. Where there is a will, there is way.

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News in Ajit today:

ਫਰਾਂਸ ਦੇ ਪ੍ਰਧਾਨ ਮੰਤਰੀ ਕੋਲ ਦਸਤਾਰ ਦਾ ਮੁੱਦਾ ਉਠਾਉਣ ਮਨਮੋਹਨ ਸਿੰਘ-ਸਿੱਖ ਫੈਡਰੇਸ਼ਨ ਯੂ. ਕੇ.

ਲੰਡਨ, 12 ਫਰਵਰੀ (ਮਨਪ੍ਰੀਤ ਸਿੰਘ ਬੱਧਨੀ ਕਲਾਂ)-ਫਰਾਂਸ ਦੇ ਪ੍ਰਧਾਨ ਮੰਤਰੀ ਫਰੈਂਨਕੋਸ ਹੋਲਨੇਡ ਦੀ 14 ਤੇ 15 ਫਰਵਰੀ ਨੂੰ ਹੋਣ ਵਾਲੀ ਯਾਤਰਾ ਦੌਰਾਨ ਭਾਰਤ ਵੱਲੋਂ ਡਾ. ਮਨਮੋਹਨ ਸਿੰਘ ਦਸਤਾਰ ਮਸਲੇ 'ਤੇ ਗੱਲਬਾਤ ਜ਼ਰੂਰ ਕਰਨ ਇਹ ਵਿਚਾਰ ਸਿੱਖ ਫੈਡਰੇਸ਼ਨ ਯੂ. ਕੇ. ਵੱਲੋਂ ਭੇਜੇ ਗਏ ਪ੍ਰੈਸ ਬਿਆਨ ਰਾਹੀਂ ਪ੍ਰਗਟ ਕੀਤੇ ਗਏ ਹਨ | ਸਿੱਖ ਫੈਡਰੇਸ਼ਨ ਯੂ. ਕੇ. ਦੇ ਚੇਅਰਮੈਨ ਭਾਈ ਅਮਰੀਕ ਸਿੰਘ ਗਿੱਲ ਨੇ ਕਿਹਾ ਕਿ ਮਈ 2012 ਦੀਆਂ ਚੋਣਾਂ ਤੋਂ ਬਾਅਦ ਫਰੈਂਚ ਪ੍ਰਧਾਨ ਮੰਤਰੀ ਦੀ ਪਹਿਲੀ ਭਾਰਤ ਫੇਰੀ ਹੈ ਤੇ ਇਸ ਮੌਕੇ ਦੋਵਾਂ ਦੇਸ਼ਾਂ ਦੇ ਹੋਰਾਂ ਮਾਮਲਿਆਂ ਸਬੰਧੀ ਹੋਣ ਵਾਲੀ ਗੱਲਬਾਤ 'ਚ ਧਾਰਮਿਕ ਚਿੰਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਦੀ ਅਜ਼ਾਦੀ ਦੀ ਗੱਲ ਕਰਦਿਆਂ ਦਸਤਾਰ ਸਬੰਧੀ ਆ ਰਹੀਆਂ ਮੁਸ਼ਕਿਲਾਂ ਬਾਰੇ ਵੀ ਜ਼ਰੂਰ ਗੱਲਬਾਤ ਕਰਕੇ ਹੱਲ ਕੱਢਣ ਲਈ ਜ਼ੋਰ ਪਾਉਣਾ ਚਾਹੀਦਾ ਹੈ | ਉਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਨਾਲ ਹੀ ਫਰਾਂਸ ਦੇ ਸਿੱਖਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਅਪੀਲ ਕੀਤੀ ਕਿ ਉਹ ਫਰਾਂਸ ਦੇ ਪ੍ਰਧਾਨ ਮੰਤਰੀ ਕੋਲ ਭਾਰਤ 'ਚੋਂ ਫਾਂਸੀ ਦੀ ਸਜ਼ਾ ਖ਼ਤਮ ਕਰਨ ਲਈ ਗੱਲਬਾਤ ਕਰਨ |

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It looks like India has already accepted the French position on the turban issue.

Source: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sikh-fora-to-protest-turban-ban/article4412221.ece

France not for revisiting ban on conspicuous religious symbols in government-funded schools

India is reconciled to France’s stand of not revisiting the ban on government-funded school students from wearing conspicuous religious symbols, which include the turban.

However, some civil society organisations have threatened to demonstrate during French President Francoise Hollande’s two-day state visit beginning from Thursday on the ban on turbans in public schools. The next day in Mumbai, another set of agitators has planned to protest against the multi-billion dollar Jaitapur civil nuclear project based on French technology.

French diplomatic sources had pointed to “overwhelming support” in their country for the ban on religious symbols in government-funded schools, in an indication of Paris’ reluctance to make an allowance for turbans.

A multi-Ministry delegation from France had visited India to explain the position to their Indian interlocutors on an issue that some Sikh organisations claim impinged on their freedom to practise religion.

New Delhi has now reconciled to the French sticking to their position despite strident calls by Sikh organisations for India to take up the issue just before every major India-France engagement.

Senior diplomat Ruchi Ghanshyam also reiterated the French argument when asked about the ban. “This is an issue which is applied without discrimination in France. No matter which religion a person is from, they cannot display conspicuous religious symbols in public schools. But that does not apply to private schools or to universities,” she told correspondents.

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Source: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-02-14/india/37098954_1_turban-issue-sikhs-border-practice

Pressure on Preneet Kaur to take up turban issue during Hollande visit

Rohan Dua TNN Feb 14, 2013, 05.43AM IST

CHANDIGARH: The Union ministry of external affairs (MEA) is likely to take up the issue of turbans with French President Francois Hollande when he visits India on Thursday. Sources in the MEA said the ministry is likely to recommend to him steps like allowing Sikh students to wear keski (a small turban) to school and wearing turbans in photographs in ID cards like driving licences so that Sikhs do not have to take off their turbans every time French authorities check their ID proof for verification.

The move comes in the wake of protests by various Sikh bodies, who plan to stage demonstrations on Thursday in front of Teen Murti Bhavan in Delhi, where Hollande is scheduled to deliver a lecture. Groups like United Sikhs have been asking minister of state for external affairs Preneet Kaur , who is an MP from Patiala, to take up the issue.

Sources said the minister is likely to hand over the letter in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Union external affairs minister Salman Khurshid. Preneet, however, refused to comment on this.

Sikhs in France and across the world have been upset over the ban on turbans on school campuses in France. They have also been peeved over instances of Sikhs being asked to take off their turbans by traffic policemen and government officials to match identities as it is mandatory in France to have photos in I-cards without any headgear. France has made photos without turbans mandatory despite adopting biometric documents by introducing biometric passports in November 2008 and biometric driver's licences in January this year in compliance with EU norms.

And, another woman MP from Punjab, SAD's Harsimrat Kaur Badal, has lent her voice to the cause. However, Harsimrat, who had a telling 20-minute talkfest with US President Barack Obama in 2010, when she gustily asked him to put a stop to the US border practice of frisking Sikh turbans, tore into her Congress counterpart.

"It is ironical that when world over there are protests from the Sikh community on the ban, Sikh PM and Sikh minister are happy with the French government's reply," said Harsimrat.

"We will submit a memorandum to Hollande. I am meeting several representations of Sikh communities. The ban is like telling us to remove our clothes," she added.

"Every time I have visited the US, I have been asked to let loose my hair and remove the hair pins. Each time, I have put up a defiant face. They would escort me to an enclosure and then the lady would do a pat down on me. My shoes, my bangles, my rosary were put aside," she recollected.

Sikh men have long accepted they cannot take a sword aboard planes and so have modified the religious requirement by carrying pendants or blades embedded in their comb, she said.

The Bathinda MP said the community must not subscribe to meekness and such timidity. "The turban is an inextricable part of the Sikh identity. Sikhs say you may take off their head but not the turban," she said.

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