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NRI Sikhs urge IOC to vote against French bid for 2012 Olympics


London, June 28, 2005
Agence France-Presse

NRI, British Sikhs said on Tuesday they were asking the International Olympic Committee to vote against France's bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games because of a French law they say violates religious freedom.

The Sikh Federation and National Council of Gurdwaras said in a statement it had begun writing to each of the 120 plus members of the IOC which meets in Singapore in early July to decide on the host city.

The race is between Paris, London, New York, Madrid and Moscow.

Bhai Amrik Singh, chairman of the Sikh Federation, appeals in the letter for the Paris bid "to be rejected as long as the laws and practices in France discriminate against those that wish to freely practice their faith."

France's "secularity" law, which took effect at the start of the academic year in September, forbids the wearing of "conspicuous" religious insignia in state schools, like Muslim headscarves and Sikh turbans.

"We believe it is inconceivable for such a prestigious international event to be hosted in a country where the laws are infringing the basic human right of religious freedom," the Sikh statement said.

Bhai Narinderjit Singh, the general secretary of the Sikh Federation, said in the statement: "As the ban is on the Christian cross, Jewish skullcap, Muslim hijab and Sikh turban we believe a number of nations will heed our concerns and reject the Paris 2012 bid."

A federation spokesman added in the statement that the Sikh federation was also discussing plans for a possible boycott of French goods, such as an international embargo on the purchase of defense equipment.

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