Letter of S. Simranjit Singh Mann to Minister for Foreign Affairs, France

Camp : 82 rue de Clochettes,
93700 Drancy,
Paris, France.
January 29th 2004.

Your Excellency,

I am grateful for this opportunity to present the Sikh case on the Turban issue, which as you are aware is agitating the Sikhs in France and the rest of the world.

I have presented the full case of the Sikh people on the Turban issue to Hon’ble Mr. Dominique Girard, Ambassador of France to India in New Delhi on 16 January 2004. A copy of the memorandum is enclosed for your perusal and study.

To what I have stated in the memorandum, I would like to add that the glorious relationship of the Sikh nation and France should continue and Sikh students desirous of studying in public schools in France should be allowed to wear their turbans. Religiously, culturally, socially and legally, the Sikh people have the right to their turban. Unlike a veil, scarf or kippa, a turban is not optional. In fact all Sikhs wear it around the world, including while serving in the armed forces, of countries, of which they become citizens. Wearing of a turban does not indicate any form of extremism, as the turban is an integral part of the code of dress for a Sikh. Sikhs cannot remove their turban in any public place (not even in their homes) and hence asking them to remove the turban for attending school would be a grave injustice.

Since I have visited your country several times, the French Sikhs have complained to me that as per the regulations of your country, they are asked to remove their turbans for taking their I.D. pictures. This is again not acceptable to the Sikhs as it hurts their sentiments. I will be grateful if your government puts an end to this practice. Your government must have seen that the Sikhs are a very homogenous nationality. They have in their individual capacity or groups approached your government to let the Sikhs practice
their custom of wearing the turban. Though we have approached your government as the collective will of the entire Sikh nation around the globe, we are handicapped in the sense that we cannot put up our case to you through our government because though we are a nation we have no state. As such like any other people who have his or her own state and government, we suffer from this advantage but make up for this short coming in our collective appeal to your government to see the genuineness of our cause and give us justice.

The French nation has absolutely nothing to fear from the Sikhs. The contribution of Sikhs in France and in other parts of Europe is a showcase of their commitment to respective countries and society. It is pertinent to quote the French historian, Odon Vallet, who has recently stated that, “The turban is absolutely essential for the Sikhs, and they have already won their right to wear it as part of police or army uniform in several countries. We have to exempt them from the proposed law.” This statement is a clear affirmation of the Sikh case.

History is testimony to the fact that the turban-wearing Sikh has always been aware and
conscious of his individual and social obligations.

Turban-wearing Sikhs all over the world have excelled in all walks of life and are an asset to their family, society and the country they have made their homes.

I will be happy to submit more information on the subject and appear before any commission or authority to present the Sikh case on the Turban.
With regard,
Yours sincerely

(Simranjit Singh Mann)
Member Parliament
Member SGPC (Sikh Parliament)
President, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar)

His Excellency Mr. Dominique Dedvilletin,
Hon’ble Minister for Foreign Affairs,
Government of France,