Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Sikhs fall foul of French

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Paris, September 10: Two Sikh boys have fallen foul of France's ban on religious clothing in state schools this year, with one excluded because of his turban and another forced to wear a small cloth instead, a Sikh activist said on Friday.

Gurinder Singh, 17, was barred from class in a Paris suburb because he refused to remove the keski, or under-turban, that his school let him wear last year, said Kudrat Singh of the United Sikhs pressure group.

Hardeep Singh, 13, was only allowed into class when he agreed to wear a small cloth over the top-knot of his uncut hair. Sikh men do not cut their hair for religious reasons.

Three Sikh boys were expelled from school last year for wearing their turbans, which officials said violated a new ban on religious symbols in state schools aimed mostly at stopping Muslim girls from attending in headscarves.

Over 600 Muslim girls turned up for school with veils last year and 47 of them were expelled for refusing to remove them. Hardly any such cases were reported this year.

Gurinder Singh was now negotiating with school officials in another Paris suburb and could be expelled in a few weeks if they fail to find a solution, Kudrat Singh said.

"He is too old to just wear a little cloth like a child," he added, ruling out a compromise.

A local Catholic school, which as a private establishment does not ban religious symbols, took in the three Sikh boys expelled last year after saying at first that it could not.

Kudrat Singh said the Sikhs appreciated the gesture by the Catholic school but did not see it as a full solution.

"There is no guarantee that all Sikh students will be admitted to Catholic schools," he said.

About 5,000 Sikhs, whose monotheistic religion started in India's Punjab region in the 15th century, live in France, mostly in the Paris area.

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