Harper Should Raise France’s Turban Ban at Meeting with French Prime Minister: Canadian Liberal Leader
United Sikhs wrote recently to the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, requesting him to raise his objection to the French turban ban during his meeting this week with his counterpart, Jean-Marc Ayrault.
Sikhs globally believe that a ban on the turban is a betrayal of France’s motto- Liberté, égalité, fraternité.
Canadian Liberal Leader Bob Rae said in a statement today, “If we are to be a defender of rights, we must defend them around the world, including in France. We would encourage Mr. Harper to have a frank and open discussion with his French counterpart on this issue”.
Canadian Sikhs have also asked all Canadian Members of National and Provincial Parliaments to release similar statements supporting a Sikh’s right to his turban, urging Mr. Harper to raise this issue with the French PM.
Toronto, Canada: United Sikhs wrote to the Canadian Prime Minister earlier this week asking him to raise his objection to the turban ban in France, during his meeting with his French counterpart, who is currently visiting Canada.
“It is not very often that the people of a nation write directly to their Prime Minister about the threat of their identity in another sovereign state,” United Sikhs’ director, Ranbir Singh, said in the letter to the Canadian Prime Minister.
“Unless France allows Sikhs to wear a turban in schools and on ID documents photographs, the Sikh turban would be deemed to be banned in France, which will be a betrayal of France’s motto – Liberté, égalité, fraternité,” the letter added.
“Globalization in the 21st century has made human rights a border-less right. It is now no longer acceptable to say that we cannot interfere with the ‘internal affairs’ of a sovereign state (France). The precedent was set in the previous century when the world joined the Blacks of South Africa to fight apartheid – an ‘internal affair’ of a sovereign state. Just as the Blacks of South Africa could not remove the color of their skin, Sikhs cannot remove their turban and strip themselves of their identity,” the letter said.
Liberal Leader Bob Rae made the following statement today on Stephen Harper’s meeting with French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault:
“France’s decision to ban the wearing of turbans and other religious symbols in identification photos, government schools and public spaces has received international criticism and flies in the face of religious freedom. As a result of this ban, many Sikhs are denied access to employment, public health care and social benefits that require a government identification card. It should be an issue of great concern to this Conservative government and all Canadians.
After the much-publicized launch of Canada’s new Office of Religious Freedoms, today’s meeting is an ideal opportunity for this government to come to the defense of minority rights and walk the walk on religious freedoms. If we are to be a defender of rights, we must defend them around the world, including in France. We would encourage Mr. Harper to have a frank and open discussion with his French counterpart on this issue.”
In 2008, United Sikhs’ attorneys filed three cases against the French turban ban in schools and ID photos before the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC).
Victory was achieved at the UNHRC in the cases of both, Bikramjit Singh and Ranjit Singh. We await to hear the outcome of Shingara Singh’s case. If there was any doubt about the legality of France’s action, the eminent jurists of the UNHRC recently pronounced unequivocally that France had violated the human rights of both Bikramjit Singh and Ranjit Singh by denying them their religious right to wear a turban.
However, France has not overturned their ban and continue to enforce it on Bikramjit Singh and Ranjit Singh despite UNHRC’s decision. All Canadian Sikhs, United Sikhs’ team members and the global Sikh community urge and seek the support of the Canadian Government, Leaders of New Democratic Party, Liberal Party of Canada and all Members of the Parliaments to help raise this ban.
Director, United Sikhs