French regulation on religious attire draws international flak
As the three young men who stopped the recent French train terror attack received a hero’s welcome in California, French Consul Pauline Carmona was the face of villainy for her country’s ongoing denial of the religious liberty of minorities.
As Carmona, who participated in Friday’s Sacramento Hometown Heroes Parade, was chauffeured along the route, one Sikh, waving an American flag, stepped forward to protest France’s ban on wearing religious attire (including turbans) in public schools.
“Hey boss, we need the turban in France,” called Bhajan Singh to the passing consul. “You banned our turban. That’s no good!”
The ban, passed by France in 2004, impacts a broad range of religious followers.
Former President of France Jaques Chirac, who signed the ban, declared: “The Islamic veil — whatever name we give it — the kippa and a cross that is of plainly excessive dimensions: these have no place in the precincts of state schools.”
“As Californians applaud these young men for stopping a terrorist on a Paris-bound train, now is a perfect time to remember how important it is to fight for freedom,” remarks Pieter Friedrich of Sikh Information Centre. “Sadly, France is stealing religious liberty. The French law on secularity and conspicuous religious symbols hurts Jews, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, and really everyone who wears any kind of religious attire. It’s tyrannical. The State simply has no business telling people when and where they can wear religious attire, especially in public environments.”
In recent years, French regulators have also begun requiring removal of religious attire in photographs for official documents.
In 2011, the UN Human Rights Committee ruled in favor of French resident Ranjit Singh, a Sikh who was being denied an ID card unless he took off his turban. Concluding that “the regulation requiring persons to appear bareheaded in the identity photographs used on their residence permits is a limitation that infringes the author’s freedom of religion,” the committee stated: “The freedom to manifest a religion encompasses the wearing of distinctive clothing or head covering.”