Sikh schoolboys must exchange their turbans for a hair net when a new
law banning religious clothing in Franceâ€™s public schools takes effect
The Sikh community was shocked yesterday when education minister Francois Fillon made the announcement.
He also confirmed Muslim girls could only wear bandannas in schools that allowed them.
Fillon spoke after education officials adopted â€“ with some misgivings â€“ a set
of guidelines to help school officials apply the law, which was enacted
in March after a marathon parliament debate.
The law forbids conspicuous religious symbols and attire in the classroom such as the Jewish skull cap and large Christian crosses, but it is chiefly aimed
at the Muslim headscarf.
Fillon said later that an â€œarrangementâ€ had been made with Sikhs to replace the traditional head gear with hair nets.
â€œWeâ€™ve come up with an arrangement,â€ Fillon said. â€œThey accept wearing a hair net. Itâ€™s less aggressive, less showy,â€ he said.
Representatives of the small Sikh community of 5,000-7,000 said they were unaware of any such arrangement. On the contrary, they said, Sikh representatives had received a letter from a counsellor to prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, dated May 10, that provided â€œconditional assuranceâ€ that Sikh boys could wear turbans in class.0