India presses France to resolve turban ban issue

October 20th, 2011 - 4:49 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 20 (IANS) India Thursday pressed France to find a “mutually acceptable resolution” of the ban on Sikhs wearing turbans in public places. Paris indicated its willingness to discuss the sensitive issue.

“The turban is a symbol of dignity. It’s a sensitive issue for every Indian. We had discussions with the French to find a mutually acceptable solution,” External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said at a joint press conference with his French counterpart Alain Juppe.

“I have also written a letter to Italy’s foreign minister on problems faced by the Sikhs at airports. We are pursuing the matter with the EU as well,” Krishna replied when asked about the French ban on wearing turbans in that country.

“We look forward to finding a mutually acceptable resolution of this sensitive issue,” he added.

The French government has imposed a blanket ban on wearing of turbans and any other religious headgear by students to schools. The Sikh community in France and India has vigorously protested against the move and has appealed to the French government to revoke the ban.

Juppe said that there was no discrimination against the Sikh community in his country, but stressed that the ban was in accordance with France’s policy of secular state.

“France believes in democracy and freedom. For us, religion must not interfere in political and daily life. We have passed the legislation banning the use of religious signs in public places,” he said.

He added that the Sikhs were treated exactly like the Christians, the Jews and other communities.

Juppe, however, indicated Paris’s willingness to engage in a dialogue over the issue. “We are willing to discuss it with the Sikh community to find a better solution,” he said.

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