The Representative Council of French Sikhs (Conseil Représentatif des Sikhs de France) has today issued a global appeal to change a French regulation which constrains the wearing of the dastaar (turban) for Sikhs there.
A French government regulation in 2006 banned all head coverings, including the dastaar, on French ID pictures. This means that Sikhs are forced to take passport, driving license, public transport and student ID pictures with their dastaar removed. Removing the dastaar in public is a humiliating act for a Sikh. The dastaar is not a hat – it is a crown, given as a gift to a Sikh by their Guru which represents each Sikh’s sovereignty and royal status.
Many Sikhs believe the dastaar presents no identification problems as it does not in any way cover the face. Governments across the world permit ID pictures of dastaar wearing Sikhs. Because a Sikh always wears their dastaar in public, it has led to the ironic situation of a French Sikh’s ID picture looking less like how a Sikh appears in public, causing rather than preventing identification problems. The images included in this article are examples of a French Sikh’s ID pictures, where he has been forced to remove his dastaar.
Despite numerous pleas, including to the United Nations, the French government has maintained this stance, which many Sikhs feel is a degrading erasure of Sikh identity. Thousands of dastaar wearing Sikhs fought in both World Wars on French soil, defending the liberty that their descendants are denied today.
You can read the statement from R.G. Singh, President of the Representative Council of French Sikhs in full below:
Global Appeal to the Panth
Paris, 9th March 2018
We appeal to the Panth to taken notice of the situation of Sikhs in France. The Dastaar Struggle is still on the table. Even after the success in the United Nations, the situation of Sikhs in France has not change at all. Each time, a French Sikh wants to apply for an Identity document, we are asked to remove our Dastaar on the picture. We need the support of Sikhs around the world, what is happening today in France can spread throughout Europe and hire in all Western countries.
Unfortunately, the Sikh Identity is not safe in France. We still have problem with French administration. The French Sikh community is struggling for their identity in French society, the Government regulation of 2006 on ID picture, in which they forbade all head cover such as Dastaar, is erasing the Sikh Identity in the French society. Even after the visit in 2012 in New Delhi of the former French President F. Hollande, this issue was not resolved.
Sikhs and France have a great shared history, friendship between Maharaja Ranjit Singh and King Louis Philippe 1er, to the French love in the province of Kapurthala. It is important to remember these strong historical connections that strengthened the French-Sikh friendship. This same friendship will occur during the Great Wars in France. The Dastaar was not an issue to defend the Freedom in France, today a duty of memory is required.
This year, even a single bus card (Navigo Card) requires a picture without Dastaar, Sikh turban. It is a humiliation every time we have to present a card to present our self. You can be French, British, Indian, to get a Navigo Card you will have to produce a picture without Dastaar on the desk! Passport, ID card, European License Card, Health Card, Student Card, Public Transport Card, Student Card, Sikhs are forbidden to wear their Dastaar.
We urge the Panth to take up these issues with the French official, especially during the visit of French President in India from 9th to 12th March 2018.
Safeguarding the Sikh Identity is a duty for each of us.
Contact information :
Conseil Représentatif des Sikhs de France
(33) 6 50 45 11 07
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