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09/09/2004 12:46 PM ID: 42782 Permalink   

Religious Symbol Ban Sharply Criticised


A Sihk religious group, the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) has slammed France’s ban on religious symbols in schools, saying that boys are being deprived of their education in the country as they can no longer wear their turbans.

The SGPC says that 30 boys across France have been sent home from school after they wore their turbans, though they not been formally expelled. The SGPC is in negotiations with local government officials.

A spokesperson for the group said: “The action of various school authorities in France is highly deplorable and a direct attack on the individuality and faith of Sikhs in France."

    WebReporter: NuttyPrat Show Calling Card      
ASSESS this news: BLOCK this news. Reason:
  Got to agree with France  
Most of the problems in the world today exist because of fundamentalist religion. In the same way that children should not be allowed to wear gang colors or say a Swastika tee shirt, they should keep their religious clothing at home. France has a very good social system for education, health care and welfare. If people want to be a part of that send the kids to school appropriately dressed.

As far as I am concerned when a religion starts to dictate what clothes can be worn, it has gone too far. Why would a god with infinite intelligence care less if people wear a head scarf? I don’t want people to wear religions clothes at all, and my IQ is several points lower than God.
  by: ZCT     09/09/2004 01:25 PM     
I suggest you actually read up about religions, because you don't really know what you are speaking about.

1) How is wearing religious clothing anything like gang colours of swastika shirts, which are symbols of hate?

2) By banning religious clothing they are oppressing the rights of an individual to freedom of religious expression, and religious people hold a greater dedication to God than they do towards French laws. Religious items are often important customs of their religious tradition, and it is not something they wear simply to be different or stand out. It is their right.

3) How does it affect you what other people wear anyway? How are they causing any 'world problems'?
  by: yeap     09/09/2004 01:47 PM     
  ZCT I like the way you think  
i agree with you yeap that it opresses views, but ZCT is right, fundamentalism is very, very dangerous. especially Islam as we all know.
  by: richjournalist     09/09/2004 03:17 PM     
  I agree with yeap... the french goverment also banning people from wearing the crucifix around their necks? If not they should, its a religious symbol.
  by: groulix   09/09/2004 03:19 PM     
  Its not just Islam...Look at ireland..  
....hundreds of years the protestants and catholics have been at war with eachother.
  by: groulix   09/09/2004 03:21 PM     
  ALL religious symbols  
including crucifixes, both on a chain around the neck, and on the walls of RE classrooms.
  by: Lois_Lane     09/09/2004 03:29 PM     
  Actually, it's all visible religious symbols  
Large crosses, headscarves...everything that remains hidden/unobtrusive is ok.
  by: tempest     09/09/2004 03:34 PM     
  Doesn't Matter  
This is France, for Pete's sake....they'll surrender to the Muslims and use the excuse of "oh, well, the turbans aren't religious, they are *cultural*." Everyone else will still be banned, but the Muslims will be able to wear turbans, scream "Allah curse you infidels," and read the Koran rather than do math. Just wait.
  by: Visitor   09/09/2004 07:37 PM     
I suggest you read the news about Iraq
  by: Schee   09/09/2004 07:55 PM     
  also, @yeap  
1) You really don't see a link between "wearing clothing that show your belonging to a religion" and "wearing clothing that show your belonging to a gang/group of people who share some belief" ? Hint: religions are groups of people sharing the same belief.

And 2) That's not "oppressing the rights" of anybody, that's respecting the principles of the Republic. If anyone disagrees with this law, well nobody forces them to go to public schools, they can just go to any private school which accept religious symbols (and as long as you pay, catholic ones allow you to wear muslim or sihk clothes). If you want to benefit from the Republic's free institutions, first respect her principles.

IMO, instead of just banning visible religious symbols, we should have made the pupils wear an uniform. This would have had the same effect but people wouldn't have complained.
  by: Schee   09/09/2004 08:07 PM     
I suggest you stop assuming things concerning subjects you know nothing about, ie: what I read.
  by: Visitor   09/09/2004 09:58 PM     
At the end of the day, if you live in a country, you at least abide by their laws.

You don't like their rules? Move out of THEIR country.

Sure, it's maybe a little selfish. But the state the worlds in right now I see nothing wrong with keeping your countries to yourselves.
  by: daniel2508     09/09/2004 10:54 PM     
Then, how do you explain this « This is France, for Pete's sake....they'll surrender to the Muslims and use the excuse of "oh, well, the turbans aren't religious, they are *cultural*." Everyone else will still be banned, but the Muslims will be able to wear turbans, scream "Allah curse you infidels," and read the Koran rather than do math. Just wait.», just after the government explicitely said it will not remove the law even when two French journalists are being taken as hostages by islamist terrorists asking that the law be removed ? (though they have given up now, and are only asking money)

I mean, I don't see risking the lives of two citizens to keep a law banning (among others) muslim headscarves as surrendering to muslims and allowing them to wear turbans ?

Well I guess that's just blind hatred of France then, since you are saying things which are exactly contrary to the actuality.
  by: Schee   09/09/2004 11:09 PM     
  What do they hope to gain?  
The only thing France is going to do is make a lot of people very resentful. People won't just give up religion because the schools won't let them wear symbols. A lot of these individuals feel as strongly about these symbols as many feel about their national symbols. How would you feel if someone said you can't wear anything relating to your flag or any national symbols?
  by: ixuzus     09/09/2004 11:55 PM     
Well actually, this ban is really NOT a problem in France, there have been about 3000 protesters in several demonstrations (which is extremely small), but 59% of _muslim women_ approve it, as well as 53% of muslim men.
Also, comparing it with banning national symbols is irrelevant : if you decide to live in a country, then you are supposed to agree with its ideas and ideals... anyway, banning foreign national symbols in schools probably wouldn't be a problem, since virtually nobody wears those (at school of course, people do what they want in the streets or at home)...

Once again, this ban only annoys foreign people who aren't concerned at all. The most concerned ones (muslim girls, since other religious groups like the sihks aren't very represented) are majoritary FOR this law (and actually, NO group is majoritary against). That's enough to justify it.
  by: Schee   09/10/2004 12:33 AM     
  Two sides  

On one hand, Free Speech on the other, seperation of state and church. This one is a very complicated topic here.
  by: fballer23   09/10/2004 02:00 AM     
Firstly cite your sources. Secondly only 3000 protested so that is ok? A slim majority of muslims agree with the law so it's ok? How large a group does it have to be to matter? Also consider that religion and culture can be very mixed up. I firmly believe in the freedom to express or not express religion. Personally I believe the state should stay out of it. Again I ask: what harm is being done by persons wearing religious symbols? This law is simply religious oppression entering on the wings of bigotry.
  by: ixuzus     09/10/2004 08:00 AM     
First, this ban does not go against free speech since it only applies in some schools (the public ones, provided by the State which is separated from the Church).

Secondly, it was not 59% but 49% (with 43% being against the law). If you need sources, maybe CNN ( is enough. While 49% of a minority being for a law wouldn't be enough to justody it, notice that 70% of the whole French population favors it. If only 3000 protested, well that is 0.06% of the French muslims... ( and several other, using the same article from the AFP even talk about several hundreds). Sorry but in a 60 million people country, you don't go against the opinion of 42 million to please a few thousands. Once again, if they really want to wear those symbols, they can just go to any private school. How can the state stay out of its own schools problems ? And how can the state not apply some of its first principles to its own schools (which were applied at the beginning of the century, that is, all the crosses in schools were removed, people did not wear crosses themselves, etc) ? The main harm is not really with the scarves in class, but when pupils then refuse to uncover for identity photos, driving license and ask a special room (still in a public and laic school) to prey or do whatever customs they have. That goes too far and people believe that you have to remove these habits from the beginning. And if we only talk of this "freedom to express religion" now, it's because it's only recent that (_some_) muslims immigrants do not try to integrate and rather do everything they can to show they are muslim. A few decades ago, very few muslim women wore headscarves once they were in France and there was no problem in schools (of course), now the daughters of these women wear scarves and the same problem as at the beginning of the century appear, and the government is trying to deal with it the same way (which worked).
Still, the state does not go where it shouldn't or really prevents anyone from wearing what they want, it only applies its principles in the schools it provides for free.
  by: Schee   09/10/2004 09:33 AM     
When was the last time you saw a Muslim wear a turbin? the answer is NEVER, Muslims dont wear turbans, Sihks do, so yes they are all brown but they dont all worship the same head honcho.
  by: koultunami     09/10/2004 10:41 AM     
Actually I have read up about various religions, although doing so is largely irrelevant to my point. My point is that much conflict in the world is caused by groups of people hating each other. Therefore in schools some of the more obvious symbols of division should be abolished to reduce the polarization within schools.

1) Wearing religious clothing is showing an overt symbol of group membership to others.

2) I notice from your post you are probably American (an America who likes Faux News according to your profile), which may make it difficult for you to understand that not all people around the world think like you do.

The ban is not as sinister as you are making out. There are not groups of French SS kicking down doors to people’s homes looking for people in religious garb and dragging them off to be interrogated and gassed. All that is happening is that the French government is stating, “Hey oui are offering you a free education, but to take advantage of it we don’t want you wearing overt symbols of religion. Take it or leave it.” Much like in America where the government here says, “We’ll give you a free college education if you join the armed forces and risk deployment to a war zone.” Sure, it doesn’t sound fair but guess what, it is the right of the government, elected by the people, to decide who they offer their education to. Let’s face facts American inner city schools are often so violent that kids have to walk through metal detectors to get in. Armed police patrol the schools. So what right do you have as an American to pretend to be a world expert on how to run a school? The French government clearly have decided that symbols of religion are polarizing their schools and they want to prevent it. Who are we to sit here in America and tell them they are doing it wrong? When we have created the perfect school system here in America that has no violence and affords a great education to all then maybe we can advise the rest of the world, including France.

3) I’ll give you one example of how religions clothing offends me. When women are subjugated and forced to cover their faces and indeed any of their skin and basically walk around with a sheet covering them I am offended. Backwards religions all over the world are making women slaves. This is not right. Did you read the ShortNews report the other day about the 16 year old girl who was hanged because she was raped? This happened in Iran where crazy fundamental religious laws have taken over the country. So I don’t want my children to see religious clothing that says it is okay to subjugate women. This is just one example.

If you cannot see how religious intolerance causes problems in the world, I suggest you check out a real news channel, not Faux News.
  by: ZCT     09/10/2004 01:34 PM     
  As ZTC said  
This law has been passed to stop things like that happening IN FRANCE, a special police unit has been setup in the UK to combat "honour" killings.

If muslim/sikh values are contrary to Frenchj values, thjey should change there values or get out of France.
  by: Necralis   09/10/2004 02:39 PM     
  France is right to ban them  
For once I totally agree with the french, it is their country not the muslims or sikhs, if they want to ban overt religious symbols & a turban is a religious symbol, then they have every right to do just that.

Anyone who doesn't like it can always find their way back to their own country & stop bitching about it.
  by: Lucifer_The_Dark   09/10/2004 04:11 PM     
So, if a Muslim, Sikh, Jew or any other person who feels a duty to wear religious clothing does not like the law, they should abandon their religious beliefs or leave the country? Even people who have been in France their whole lives, BEFORE the ban was enacted?

Reminds me of the Spanish Inquisition, when Muslims and Jews were forced to "convert, leave, or die", except with only the options of converting, leaving or being expelled instead.

ZCT you say that the French government are saying: “Hey oui are offering you a free education, but to take advantage of it we don’t want you wearing overt symbols of religion. Take it or leave it.”

Is that not still discrimination on the grounds of religion, in that religious clothing is an important part of some people's beliefs?

If it does not offend many Muslim women to wear religious clothing (who often do it by choice), why should it offend others? They do not feel subjugated or slaves, but the government thinks that they know what is best for them instead of themselves? There are indeed many countries "where crazy fundamental religious laws have taken over the country", but that is not an adequate reflection of the religion, only of the way that a few corrupt leaders can misinterpret or use religion as an excuse for this kind of behaviour. Religious extremists are a very, very small minority.

I agree that a lot of conflict is caused by groups of people hating each other, but what does religious clothing have to do with hatred? If someone hates people of a certain religion, then forcing that religion to conform by abolishing religious clothing will not stop hatred. Furthermore, most religious people are not 'crazy fundamentalists', and the behaviour of a few does not mean that they should be stereotyped by assuming that all people wearing religious clothing should conform or switch schools.

By the way, I'm not from America, but Australia.
  by: yeap     09/10/2004 04:25 PM     
What do you define as "French"? If someone is a French citizen are they considered French? You do know that there is such thing as French Muslims, and French Sikhs. Many of these people's "own country" is France, considering they are equal citizens there along with everyone else, and many are born there.

Or do you assume that Muslim and Sikh are nationalities of their own, and that if someone follows a certain religion then they are not considered 'French', even if they have lived in France their whole lives.
  by: yeap     09/10/2004 04:30 PM     
I think you said it right. Everyone here assumes that religion is nationality. Malcom X died muslim. He started in the nation of Islam which was as is today one of the racist movements in USA. They Nation Of Islam have nothing to do with Islam, nor it is one of the branches of Islam. Macolm X realized that they were wrong when he went to Mecca for pilgrimage. Upon his return he denounced Alijah Mohamad and embrace the real Islam, as the religion of peace and acceptance of all humankind as one under the eye of God, regardless of colour, race or wealth or geographical location. France by banning religious symbols is relocating itself against all beliefs of freedom and human rights. This is the same country this year it will close all of the government offices, it will close the same schools that do not allow religious symbols; it will celebrate a religious holiday at its fullest. That Holiday is X-Mas. What I dont understand is where do you draw the line, without raising eyebrows. without letting others think that you are out to get them? Crucifix are not allowed and yet the school system is waiting for christmas holidays. Then tell others that "France is sepparating religion and state"?? Think twice.
  by: chakubanga   09/11/2004 03:27 AM     
Christmas is not really a religious holiday anymore... I mean, who thinks about anything else than the "père noël" (I don't know how you call this guy who brings the gifts in english...) and gifts at Christmas ?

Christmas has been adapted for children the same way it (and most other christian holidays) had been adapted for christians almost two thousand years ago from a pagan custom. Keeping the same date just allows a smooth transition from one meaning to the other (also, notice that the French name "Noël" doesn't have religious words like "christ" in it).

One of the others religious holidays has been removed btw, and adding a muslim holiday has been proposed, but like some muslims opposing to it said, France has been christian during a thousand year, these holidays do not exist today because they are christian but only because they have already existed for a very long time, you could as well (and I think that would be a nice thing) nationalise them all by finding important events in the history of France at these dates (or create these events if they don't exist...).

The actual government would be happy to remove all these holidays (anything that can make people work more is good to them), it's just that everybody (including non-christians) want to keep them... people don't care about the meaning of holidays as long as they don't work...
  by: Schee   09/11/2004 12:28 PM     
Whether it realy is or not, is irrelevant; because if not X-mas than Easter is coming. Just like an innuit who will decide to go to a class with Parka and he will be allowed entry. The same parka on the head of a Muslim girl will be considered Hijab and she will be refused entry. For one reason and that is, her religion. If this is not segregation and division I dont know what is. France being the fashion capital of the world (haut couture) I dont understand how can they arrive at this decission? related only to a segment of people who are different in regalia! Isn't that what destinguishes are from one another? Or perhaps we should as a world populus adopt a ribbon strategy to know a hassidic Jew from an Orthodox or a Sikh from Yemeni and we should al boycott Erikah Badu's concert if she wears that head thingy mile long heaven ward. Oh please lets not fight over who get to pick ribbon colours first. Jamaicans or Africans cant get black or green which will (demonstrate they land or colour of their skin) Jews wil not get black either ( For their life experiences nor their Head gears) Sikh wont get orange either as this is directly the colour of their sikhism and bah bah bah. I mean bla bla bla... Cant we just tolerate and live with each other.
  by: chakubanga   09/11/2004 03:54 PM     
Oh, then easter (which also has a non-christian origin) is the day children get chocolate eggs if you prefer, I just don't know of any religious holiday which still has a religious meaning for most people.

Hmm... and what do you mean by regalia ? I think I learnt it had something to do with kings' attributes, but that doesn't really fit with what you're saying...

Now... excuse me but what you're saying about ribbons etc is completely pointless. The ban precisely tries to make jews, muslims, catholics and all the other groups look the same for the teachers not to make distinctions between them...

The point of the law is not to refuse entry to people who wear religious clothes, it is to make them stop wearing them. For those who will accept not to wear them, fine, for the others, if they don't change their mind after discussions with the director of their school, well that clearly means they don't accept the rules of public schools so they shouldn't have tried to go there in the first place.

Anyway if you don't like all this, don't send your children to French public schools. Unless you're forced to send them there (you aren't and nobody is), I fail to see where you have the right to criticise this decision.

Oh, and we don't see covering the head of women with scarves as haute couture.
  by: Schee   09/11/2004 05:47 PM     
  Most religions  
ARE institutions of hate ("Worship MY God the way I do, or die."). Wake up, more wars have been fought over religion than anything else--ever. If they ban swastikas and gang colors, they ought to ban overtly religious clothing too.
  by: pagan_mama   09/20/2004 05:09 AM     
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