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Sikh children hold turban march
during Chirac's visit

Schoolchildren at a protest march organised by the Shiromani Akali Dal (Panthak) demanding that the Sikhs should be allowed to wear turban in France, in New Delhi on Monday, while French President, Jacques Chirac, is on a three-day visit to India
Schoolchildren at a protest march organised by the Shiromani Akali Dal (Panthak) demanding that the Sikhs should be allowed to wear turban in France, in New Delhi on Monday, while French President, Jacques Chirac, is on a three-day visit to India .
PTI photo


New Delhi, February 20
Coinciding with the visit of French President Jacques Chirac, Sikh 
schoolchildren wearing turbans held a protest march here today against 
his country's ban on their religion's distinct headdress at state 
schools.

Led by religious leader, Mr Manjit Singh, the children carried placards 
urging the visiting French President to exempt Sikh pupils in France 
from the ban.

France banned religious symbols such as Sikh turbans and Muslim 
headscarves in state schools in 2004 in a move aimed at checking what 
officials said was the rising influence of radical Islam among France's 
large Muslim population.

"This march does not just challenge a law, but the Western way of 
thinking," says Mr Manjit Singh, a senior member of the Delhi Sikh 
Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) and head of the Shiromani Akali 
Dal (Panthak).

The schoolchildren, who walked from Gurdwara Bangla Sahib to the 
Parliament Street, later submitted a memorandum with the French Embassy 
also.

In a separate memorandum addressed to Chirac, supporters of former 
Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, also demanded that the 
ban be revoked.

"We find no reason in imposing suchy a ban on turbans. Are Sikhs living 
there not European?" asked Avtar Singh Hit, who heads Badal's party in 
Delhi.

Several Sikh pupils in France have been expelled from school for 
breaking the law. PTI


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