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Three Sikhs expelled from school in France

Paris, November 6
Three Sikh students were expelled from school for refusing to remove their turbans, the first time Sikhs were forced out under a new law banning conspicuous religious signs and apparel in the classroom, their lawyer said.

Officials of Louise Michel High School in Bobigny, north-east of Paris, yesterday decided to expel the three teenagers at disciplinary hearings ordered by a court, said lawyer Felix de Belloy.

The ruling was the latest twist in France's effort to apply a new law banning religious symbols at public schools. The ban, which includes Islamic headscarves, Jewish skullcaps and large Christian crosses, took effect at the start of the school year.

At least eight Muslim girls have been expelled under the law. Islamic headscarves were the law's main target because of concerns that growing Muslim fundamentalism in France was weakening the nation's secular roots.

Turbans had been left out of the marathon debate over the measure, but Sikhs later learned that the head covering also was subject to the ban.

The students had made a concession by accepting to wear a "keski", a smaller version of the full turban, but the panel did not accept the offer, the lawyer said.

The Sikh boys had been suspended since September 23. AP

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