Tuesday, March 7, 2006

What should the Sikhs in France do?

To me sitting here in the U.S., the newsstory below about French rulings at various national and local levels on turban removal for driver’s license etc. and ban of religious articles of faith s may seem like a less of a real problem since France is physically so far away from U.S. At times though, I try to put myself in the situation these Sikhs are facing in France, I wonder what I would do in a similar situation. A few thoughts and question that come to mind are how the Sikh community outside of France can help the Sikhs of France besides challenges in courts, political maneuvering a and agitations etc. Without knowing much about visas and emigration legalities, my take on this whole thing is that Sikhs in France should leave France completely and Sikh communities of India, U.S., Canada and others outside of France should help them get out by offering immigration sponsorships, creating job opportunities etc. If the community was a large, my advice would be to stick around and fight for your rights, but we are talking only about 1000 to 2000 Sikhs in France. The outside help could be in the form of sponsoring a visa for a child for education, providing a job opportunities for Sikhs that possess special skills such as tabla and dhol players, Punjabi teachers, Punjabi cooks etc. that can’t be found that easily in U.S., Canada, or England etc. or even translating or teaching French in India or other countries. The opportunities and skill transfer could be unlimited. The ease of migration could be easy or hard depending upon the willingness of the family to seek help and the willingness of the outside Sikh communities to give help to make their lives better. Gurudwaras and Sikh organizations such as Saldef, United Sikhs, 3HO etc. along with Sikh businesses such as restaurants, schools etc. can play a major role in organizing monies, seeking immigration and legal help for French Sikhs to settle in other countries. After all, we are talking only a few hundred Sikh families. Anyways, these are just thoughts and a wishful thinking on my part in a hope for some individuals and organizations to act. I can do my little part by donating to a larger pool.



Blogger deep said...

As I recall, the problem is public school children cannot wear their turbans to school. I'm not aware of problems with drivers licenses emerging, but perhaps I am wrong. I know a fair amount of money was being sent to re-route the children into private schools. I also thought they had reached a compromise wear Sikh children could wear a putka. Personally I think these types of laws need to be challenged, not just for Sikhs, but for Muslims, Christians, and other religiously minded people in the name of freedom of religion. Simply withdrawing seems against Sikh dharma.

4:05 PM, March 07, 2006  
Blogger SikhsRus said...

I am not sure about the patka. Well it is not really withdrawing or giving in. We all have choices in life. Logic tells me that if you can't climb a wall then go around it instead of banging against it. The results are the same. I think, Sikhs are very practical and logical people so it kind of goes well with the Sikh Dharma. The news story link mentions drivers license and other identification papers! Thank you for your comments.

9:50 PM, March 07, 2006  
Blogger deep said...

Wow I admit I didn't read the article. The driver license issue is very disturbing, since there may be no reasonable way around it. My sense is the French are getting carried away with their secular obssession. In my opinion, banning articles of faith has nothing to do with their cultural assimilation problem.

10:40 AM, March 08, 2006  
Blogger Prabhu Singh said...

I have corresponded with a few Sikhs in France, including native French people who became Sikh. I think it highly unlikely that they would just leave France. Some of them are really immersed in the culture, they have family there. They have people who respect them, just not everybody and certainly not the government.
Personally I'd rather scale a wall then go around it. And if the wall is not supposed to be there, I've always had a good time taking walls out.
I'm not even French and these stupid laws upset me. I have worn a turban every single day of my life. It is my life, I would rather die than go bare-headed. 'Khalsa mai ho karo nivas,' Khalsa is where the Guru dwells and without the Guru I would rather die.
On one day the supreme court allows Shingara Mann Singh to wear his turban and before he can get his license again another organization of the French Government makes it illegal. I take this as nothing less than a very clear and direct insult to Sikhs. I've never seen any thing so disrespectful in a western country. I would love to see Manmohan Singh visit France and get kicked out of a federal building (like other Sikhs have been) because he was wearing a turban. That would be great! Then both people would wake up!
The Sikhs in France need to go the EU and sue France. France's discriminating laws cannot hold up, unless they secede from the European Union. In this case I would suggest Sikhs do leave.
The Sikhs have tried everything they can in France and the French have acted against them and clearly insulted all of us and any body who believes in the freedom of religion. What right does the government have to say what people wear? Especially when it comes to religion?
It's time to take it to the European Union, which requires member states to allow for freedom of religion, something France has clearly violated.

12:22 PM, March 10, 2006  
Blogger SikhsRus said...

Scaling the wall and knocking it down. Nothing wrong with that either. This is another great example of Sikh practicality, ingenuity and logic. Way to go Prabhu Singh!

5:08 PM, March 10, 2006  

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