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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Turbans are no threat. THE Times of India news

Turbans are no threat to secularism.


"There is absolutely nothing wrong in Sikh organisations and individuals in India urging Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to discuss the issue of the ban on wearing turbans in France. The turban is merely one among many outward religious symbols that the French republic has outlawed in public institutions and photo identity. To be seen to be secular, the French government has gone to the extent of specifying even the size of religious symbols like the cross that could be displayed on a person. Secularism, however, is not about denial of individual rights; it is about keeping religion out of the state’s hair and vice versa. Understandably, Sikhs across the world are upset and anguished over the French ban on turbans in public institutions. Wearing a turban does not in any manner compromise the safety, security or health of either the wearer or those around him. Nor does it undermine the secular nature of the French republic. So is there really a case for the ban? It befits a democracy to maintain a clear separation between religion and state. However, making the distinction into a divide only leads to a secularism that is militant, even aggressive to the point of preventing people from expressing their beliefs peacefully. By making secularism a state religion, France has only given liberalism a bad name."

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