Sikh MP ‘disappointed’ with UK government refusal to support French Sikhs

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, the UK’s first turbaned Sikh MP, is ‘disappointed’ with a reply from the government about discrimination against turbaned Sikhs in France.

Last week, the Representative Council of French Sikhs (Conseil Représentatif des Sikhs de France) made a global appeal for support to change a regulation in France that bans Sikhs from wearing turbans in official ID photographs.

Following this, Tan Dhesi, the Labour MP for Slough, submitted a written parliamentary question to the Foreign Secretary, asking about any recent discussions of this with his French counterpart.

Replying on behalf of Foreign Office on March 16th, minister Sir Alan Duncan said: ‘I have had no recent discussions with my French counterpart on this issue, which is a matter for the French government.’

Tanmanjeet stated he was ‘disappointed’ with the response via his facebook page. This is not the first time that Tanmanjeet Singh has raised the human rights of turbaned Sikhs in France. During his maiden speech in July last year he said:

‘​I find it extremely disappointing and incredibly ironic that more than 80,000 turbaned Sikh soldiers died—yes, died; not injured—laid down their lives to liberate the very country (France) where their descendants cannot even have their ID photos taken without having to remove their turbans.’

Sikhs across Europe will undoubtedly be concerned that the refusal of the Foreign Office to take-up this issue is another sign that western governments pay no heed to community concerns. The Representative Council of French Sikhs will continue to lobby regarding this issue.

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