Update: 2/22/13– It is true that the U.N has declared the turban ban to be a violation of rights, but France has not officially lifted the ban. There is an upsurge in protests against the ban, and the Prime Minister of India– who is a Sikh– has recently made a statement regarding it. You can read more about this HERE for the Prime Minister’s statement and HERE for information on the recent protest.
SO this week something awesome and long overdue happened over in France.
At the same time, something awesome happened in the U.S– a blogger just typed “France” and then realized that she has left-over french fries waiting for her.
WAIT RIGHT HERE.
Okay, so as I was saying, in 2004, the French Government banned certain head-wear in public schools, which included turbans worn by Sikh men and women, as well as children, considering them “conspicuous.”
People protested this ban all around the world, but to no avail. In fact, you could say that the French government sort of got on a role, because in 2010 they also banned the burqa and niqab, which look like this:
These are banned everywhere in France, not just in public schools.
Well, let’s hear it for oppressing peoples’ culture!
THIS IS STILL A POST ABOUT THE TURBAN BAN I PROMISE! But the thing that got me about the burqa and niqab ban is that this law might be helpful in some countries where many women are forced to wear a burqa or niqab, because it would allow women to tell their oppressors “I can’t wear it, it’s against the law.” But…this is in France. Technically though, this ban was part of a law banning all face coverings, including some helmets and stuff, but people who speak out in support of the ban say that burqas and niqabs oppress women. ( So that I don’t get on a tangent about this, you can check out my post on the oppression of women HERE if you would like) But really anytime you force a person to do something, you’re oppressing them. So couldn’t they just have banned people from forcing women to wear burqas and niqabs? Sigh. This law is still in effect.
ANYWAYS back to turbans. After it was passed, students began getting expelled from school for not removing their turbans. And big ups to those kids by the way– in a post-9/11 world, it’s hard enough going out with a Sikh identity. Not only did these kids have to defend themselves everyday around their peers, but from the law as well.
One of the parents of a boy who refused to remove his turban opened the Shere Punjab private school, welcoming students who wore turbans.
Maybe I should explain why turbans are such a big deal for Sikhs. Basically, during the time of our Gurus, or the founders of our religion, people who were minorities were often killed, and Sikhs have always been minorities. It was a scary, messed up time. But Guru Gobind Singh Ji, our 10th leader, told Sikhs not to hide. In fact he told them to wear their identity proud so that everyone knew they were Sikhs and that they weren’t afraid to show it. So Sikhs grew out their hair, put on karas, or silver bracelets, and donned turbans. This became the Sikh identity. Sikhs risked their lives to show their devotion. And so today, wearing our identity is so important because those are our ancestors. I hope I don’t sound like I’m preaching here–and by no means am I saying that you have to wear a turban to be a Sikh. These are simply some reasons why Sikhs may choose to do so.
Anyways, another thing about this law– in a press release, it was said that the law was partially enacted to protect the safety of Sikh students. I definitely see where they’re coming from here, because as Sikhs, we get bullied for our identity all the time. But then shouldn’t they outlaw bullying instead? It’s like when people say its a woman’s fault for getting raped because she wears dresses, when really it’s the rapist’s fault. So this month, the UN Human Rights Committee ruled that France did not have a valid reason for the law, and that the ban infringed upon a Sikh’s right to manifest his/her religion, as stated in this press release issued by United Sikhs: http://unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-14-12-2012-01.html
This ban had no place in the 21st century, and I’m glad to see it gone. I have a little cousin named Arik who lives in Paris. His parents don’t wear turbans, and neither does he. But it’s good to know that if one day he wants to, he can. Congratulations Arik, and to all my French-Sikh brothers and sisters, and to everyone who didn’t support the ban in the first place. For the French ladies who are waiting to put their burqas and niqabs back on, maybe this is a step towards your freedom as well. I definitely hope so, and I hope that day comes soon 🙂
And with that, I’m off. I hope you have an awesome holiday, whether it be Christmas, Hannukah, Quanza, or just that awkward day when the whole world is celebrating something and you’re not. If you’re that last one, I feel you bro. You can come to my house on Christmas–we’ll drink cha and watch the sunrise.