Page last updated at 08:30 GMT, Saturday, 15 September 2007 09:30 UK

Sikh school sidesteps French ban

By Emma Jane Kirby
BBC News, Paris

Sikh boy with turban. File pic
France bans turbans in public places like offices or schools

A Sikh school is opening its doors in a Paris suburb for the first time on Saturday in the wake of tougher French laws on religious dress.

The special school in Bobigny was set up after secularisation laws in 2004 prevented Sikh boys from wearing their traditional turbans in class.

Several boys dropped out of mainstream education in protest.

The Sikh school was built by a local entrepreneur whose son was excluded from a public school three years ago.

The boy had refused to remove his turban in class.

The French laws ban the wearing of prominent religious symbols such as Muslim headscarves or Sikh turbans in public places like offices or schools.

The Sikh school will start with fewer than 15 pupils but it is hoped that a Sikh college will open later in the year to allow older boys to take business qualifications.

Although the school will celebrate its inauguration over the weekend, it is unlikely to begin classes on Monday because it is still waiting for a final approval from the local education authority.

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