M A I N   N E W S

Sikh students can wear patka, says French envoy
Tripti Nath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 22
Taking serious note of the resistance of the Sikh community to the ban on wearing ostentatious religious symbols in public primary and high schools in France, the French government has decided to allow Sikh boys enrolled in these schools to wear discreet ‘patka’.

Ambassador of France to India dominique Girard told TNS here on Wednesday that the Ministry of National Education of France has proposed that the Sikh boys enrolled in these schools wear ‘discreet patka’ instead of turbans or study the same syllabus by correspondence. They can even choose to study in a private school.

Mr Girard said the French government is willing to lend financial support to Sikh boys who are poor and cannot afford to study in a private school. “There are less than 200 Sikh boys in public schools in France,’’ he said.

The ambassador however clarified that the proposals made by the French government are neither options nor relaxation in the law. “In France, the law is the law.

These measures are aimed at ensuring easy and smooth implementation of the law. We are helping the Sikh boys abide by the law in the best possible circumstances. We want to ensure tolerance and secularism in our schools but also to ensure that they get education.’’

Mr Girard who has received numerous representations from the National Commission for Minorities, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, World Punjabi Organisation, the Delhi Sikh Forum and Sikh Parliamentarians regarding the ban on turban told TNS, “I love the Sikhs because they are interesting people.

I perfectly understand their anxieties but I think they were misled to believe that they would be targeted. It is important for the Sikhs to keep their hair long and bind them’’. 

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