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Tue, Sep 15, 2009 11:32:47
Sikh turban safe in Belgium

Belgium schools have made the decision to ban the Muslim headscarf.
Sikhs in Belgium were worried that this decision would impact on their children who wore turbans, but the ruling does not apply to Sikhs.

France banned wearing turbans and Muslim headscarves in its public schools in 2004, saying it was aimed at checking what they said was the rising influence of radical Islam among France's large Muslim population. Sikhs say the ban denies them religious freedom.

This resolution will impact about one fifth of all schools in Belgium's Dutch-speaking Flanders region

"This decision promotes the feeling of equality and prevents group formation or segregation on the basis of external symbols of life philosophy," said a statement from the schools, which number about 700, Reuters has reported

Two schools in the northern city of Antwerp and nearby Hoboken introduced such a ban at the start of the school year last week, arguing that Muslim girls were being pressured to wear headscarves by their families and peers.

Angry pupils have protested outside the two schools, and one girl filed a complaint in court to contest the ban.

The protests, with banners reading "No headscarves, no pupils" and "Everybody free except us", have been front-page news in Belgium.

One of the schools was vandalised, had slogans sprayed on its walls and its director received a death threat.

France passed a law in 2004 banning pupils from wearing conspicuous signs of their religion at school after a decade of bitter debate about Muslim girls wearing headscarves in class.
France has also banned Sikh children from wearing their turbans in schools. All French Sikhs must remove their turbans for passport photographs, Sikh in France have been lobbing the government to lift the ban since 2004

Sikhs have also approached the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is a Sikh to lobby on their behalf.

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