|E-mail To Indian President|
International Human Rights Organisation Head Office: New District Courts, Ludhiana-141 001 (India)
Dear Dr Abdul Kalam:
Re: President of France's call for legislation to ban the wearing of religious articles of faith in public schools and to regulate their wearing at the workplace
We are seeking your kind attention to the case in hand that had become the concern of the whole Sikh community. And there has been a quick reaction across the world among Sikh community following His Excellency Mr Jacques Chirac, President of France's call for legislation to ban the wearing of religious articles of faith in public schools and to regulate their wearing at the workplace. UNITED SIKHS, a Sikh organisation working for the betterment of 25 million Sikhs globally, has taken up this case.
This proposed law, if enacted, will ban Sikhs from wearing their distinctive Turbans in addition to banning Islamic head coverings, Jewish skullcaps and oversized Christian crosses in public schools and workplaces. It violates fundamental human rights, including freedom of religion and the right to education. Wearing a Turban is not optional but a mandatory requirement of the Sikh faith. Such law will deny approximately 7,000 Sikhs, residing in France, their fundamental right to practise the Sikh faith.
And it will be gross violation of the United Nation’s ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, which enshrines:
"Article 18: Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice worship and observance."
Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1976, also says that everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. No one shall be subject to coercion, which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice. And the States Parties to this Covenant undertake to have respect for the liberty of parents to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions.
And moreover, Sikhs are tireless crusaders who have struggled for human rights ever since the inception of the faith 500 years ago. The Gurus set the examples themselves, who unhesitatingly chose martyrdom to uphold and defend human rights. In a particularly striking, and in human history unparalleled, example, Guru Tegh Bahadur willingly sacrificed him specifically to defend the rights of others to practice their own faiths. The Sikh faith calls upon its followers to stand by the downtrodden and fearlessly uphold human dignity and universal justice- without consideration for their own lives.
We, therefore, urge your Excellency to call upon your French counterpart to reconsider his opinion on the matter and to take back the proposed legislation banning the wearing of religious articles of faith in schools.
Looking forward to receiving explicit note,