Sikhs fight French law on turbans

Sikhs have gone to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg to challenge a French law banning the wearing of turbans for ID documents.

The United Sikhs organisation filed a complaint on behalf of French national Shingara Mann Singh, 52, who was refused a replacement driver’s licence.

By law applicants have to remove all headgear for security reasons.

A French law adopted in 2004 also bans the wearing of conspicuous religious symbols in state schools.

Several Sikh boys have been expelled from schools in France for defying the ban, which also applies to Muslim headscarves.


Mr Singh was twice refused a replacement driver’s licence – in 2005 and 2006 – because he insisted on wearing his turban for the photograph.

He has been a French national for more than 20 years.

“I will give up my head but not my turban, which covers my unshorn hair,” he said, quoted by United Sikhs.

His licence was stolen two years ago, he said, and “before the robbery, at no time was I asked to substitute the photograph with one showing me without a turban”.

The Sikh religion requires males to wear their hair unshorn and covered at all times by a turban – a key aspect of their identity.
- BBC (June 12, 2007)

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