New Delhi: Amid a demand by Sikh community
to allow students to wear turbans in schools, France on Monday
maintained that its rules prohibit display of religious signs
"In our country we have that rule which prohibits
religious signs in schools. I don`t know how public school
system is coping with that for the moment," visiting French
Cultural Minister Frederic Mitterrand told reporters here.
Asked if his government would be more sensitive
towards the Sikh community, Mitterrand said he respected the
community but does not "have an official answer" on the issue.
The French government has imposed a complete ban on
wearing of turbans and any other religious headgear by
students to schools.
The Minister, who is part of a French delegation
accompanying French President Nicolas Sarkozy, said he was not
aware if the leaders of both the countries discussed the issue
during their talks.
"However, on a personal point of view, I am highly
respectful of the Sikh religion. I don`t forget that many of
them (Sikhs) were by our side during the world war and they
were soldiers of the allies. Of course we have a debt towards
them," the French minister said.
Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur
said the Prime Minister had taken up the issue at the highest
level earlier and "we are continuing to take it up".
"As far as Sikhs are concerned, it (the turban) is not
purely a religious symbol. It`s an identification... We hope
that at some stage they will say that it is something that is
an identity problem and we would like it solved," she told
Punjab Deputy Chief Minister and SAD president Sukhbir
Singh Badal had on December 4 written a letter to Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh requesting his intervention in
getting the ban on wearing turbans by Sikhs in French schools