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Dastar in France

Guest Javanmard

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Guest Javanmard

The issue of the dastar has come up recently in a heated discussion which has been locked but which I consider to be important for many reasons. There is first of all the fact that we are dealing here not just with a law against turbans but an ideology strongly rooted in 17th century Enlightenment philosophy and hence an essential part of French political life: the division of the private and the public, the religious and the political, the Church and the State. Nothing could represent this more than the position of the Senat and the Eglise de la Madeleine, facing each other as concurrents in French society divided by the Seine.

This debate about wearing religious signs at school and other government institutions goes back to Jules Ferry's laws of the 3rd Republic whichy resulted in the stripping of crucifixes in French schools, th elooting of churches who refused to have government officials control the possessions of the curch as well as the emprisonment of priests and nuns.

French political ideology is not just a-religious:most left winged politicians in France are militant atheists and can be found in government jobs, especially schools. There is also the right wing which uses these laws to protect a caduque idea of French identity.

The law is an attempt by an unpopular and corrupt president to unite left and right wings behind him by appelaing to French political ideology. :eft winged atheism and right wing cultural arrogance are joining hands in this attack against the religious rights of practicing citizens.

The tragedy in this is that the different communities that are affected by this law have been unable to respond approprietly i.e. attack the ideology though philosophy and give an alternative. Until an alternatice model is offered the French government will not make concessions.

shouting 'Khalistan zindabad' or going on about the tolernace of SIkhi (whilts keeping Babbar Khalsa and ISYF posters in the Bobigny gurdwara), signing petitions and marching will simply not help for the very simple reason that the men at the head of th French government are masters of Realpolitik. Most of them have come out of the ENA which trains top government officials. These people will not be impressed by any dramatic displays of protest. For decades the French working class has found the only way of dealing with the government: get it by the balls where it hurts. No terrorist action but disobediance and Realpoltik.

The smart move from some members of the Paris SIkh community was to use the India government card: that's what I call a smart move! I have no personal admiration for India's government but the weight of India in post 9/11 is considerable and the French know it. It is that move which will probably get Sikhs the right to keep dastar.

If not the only way is systematic disobediance!!! That's the only language they understand!!!

The other issue I find disturbing is that the STASI report had been announced a year ago or so. In fact the new government under Raffarin had announced that it would make that move. A question then? Why do the leaders of the SIkh community act so suprised and play the innocent victims of some kind of surprise attack? They live in Bobigny, suburb of Paris (equivalent of zone 3 for those living in London!!!) and still they did not know!!!!!

This only shows how unconcerned they are by what goes on in the country they live, dreaming about some Khalistan when their kids face problems at school. It never strikes their minds as to how practically none of the Sikh kids reach university and why they all end up in polytechnics when the kids of their SIkh borthers anywhere else are doing so well. They are not concerned by their kids' bad English due to the fact that they go to schools that are administered in such a way that the sons and daughters of immigrants never reach high positions in society.

I find it disturbing that ' Khalistan Zindabad' is the only thing they have to say in response to racism, exclusion, bad living conditions, bad schools for their kids, insecurity and gang violence in the suburbs, second generation immigrant experience... really sad!!!

ps. for those who accuse others of not doing anything for the cause of dastars in France: seva can be gupt as well :wink:

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Dear Lalleshvari & Sikhawarness Sangat

Your perspective on the French Turban issue are without doubt the most well-informed that I have heard since this entire issue erupted a few weeks back. It was a great shame that the previous thread was misinterpreted and then twisted into an excuse for a personal attack and was, as a result, locked out.

I really cannot add anything to your posting at all as I (like many others) speak from no position of authority in this matter. What interests me a great deal more than the specific issue is the wider point about the quality of the leadership, the response from the (French Sikh) community and the response from the Sikhs community around the world.

We don’t need yet more examples of how badly let down Sikhs are by the people who often physically fight each other for the privilege of calling themselves our leaders. Whether the example is in Birmingham, Southall, Vanvcouver, Amritsar or the rather obscure Sikh Sangat of Paris. Whether the issues are spiritual, political, communal or social the abject failure of Sikh leaders (largely blokes who run gurdwaras) is there on the record for all to see. I know that your detractors will scream that if you (or I) think that we are better we should do something rather than criticise. Well, anyone that has ever had their fingers burnt by community politics and the absolute filth that pollutes the entire arena of community/Gurdwara politics is well advised to remain largely aloof from entering.

Its also really interesting to note that the Sikh community around the world is quickly seduced into all kinds of action when it 'feels' attacked by outside forces and not internal apostasy. Examples include Kerrys recent comments, the French thing, the 9-11 response, Muslim conversions, RSS. But when it comes to some of our self-generated problems we quickly lose interest. The state of Sikh Heritage in Punjab and India is shocking but barely raises a communal eyebrow, Sikhs shrug their shoulders when the SGPC makes uninformed and ill educated proclamations, Sikhs wring their hands at the wholesale abuse of basic Sikh practices in gurdwaras around the world. When our faith and it’s community voice is hijacked by thinly veiled terror groups and religious fanatics we collectively stare at our feet with our hands in our pockets and let them continue. Its seems we thrive on an environment of persecution (see Sikh Diaspora board) while our spiritual practices, our heritage, our beautifully diverse traditions and our egalitarian and modern faith seemingly rots and decays.

I don’t really offer any solutions I am afraid, just a response to your really excellent and really insightful note about the Turbans in France issue. As a new parent I really do feel that its going to be a tough environment for my little one to grow up in if well-informed and erudite commentators like you are shouted down, for exposing some of the home truths that we otherwise like to pretend are not there.


PS – I thought this was so important an issue that I even spell checked this note (apologies for some previous postings poor typing)

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Guest Javanmard

It really is sad! The worst thing is that 99.9% of commitees and SIkh leaders have absolutely no idea of SIkh heritage, culture or languages. In fact they despise culture as being something for effeminate intellectuals and go on about they are real men!!! That very lack of culture (not just Panjabi culture but any culture!!!) is the very reason behind our community's inability to react. We keep on going on about how 'democractic' SIkhi is and let greedy half-literate (edited) lead our community because of our ignorance of SIkh religious culture and history.

What do they fight for 'our' community leaders? Equal rights to education and health care? no! they fight for the right of women not to wear helmets becaus ethey consider it an anti-sikh practice whereas it is a known fact that SIkhs wore helmets during the Midl period! (go and see for yourslef at the V&A).

Take the example of Kathuria in the US, a republican SIkh running for senate! Is he fighting to introduce rights for the working class, equal opportunities in education and health care, reduction of war budget...?

NO! He is a capitalist!!!!!!!!!!!!! and i am sorry but SIkhi is the very anti-thesis of capitalism!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The structure of the community ion France is quite simple. The community is lead by a small bunge of amritdharis sympathisers of the Babbar Khalsa and ISYF who exploit the illegal mone freshy workers who work and vote for them. If not they loose their job!!!!!!!!! We had cases of serious fights in that gurdwara and the security reports show that certain members of the Bobigny gurdwara were linked to terrorist activities!!!!!

BabbaR Khalsa and ISYF use the cover of religious and human rights organisations to spread their inflence over the community by using any excuse as a platform for their propaganda. Using the excuse of 'panthic unity' (the same unity they broke by driftimg away from the puratan maryada) they proclaim themselves 'defenders of the panth' and condemn those who have other points of view.

But then again Guru Gobind SIngh had predicted this already..........

Mod's Note: Please refrain from using the word that has been edited out to refer to people!

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