Sikhs slam US bill barring wearing of 'religious dress' | india | Hindustan Times
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Sikhs slam US bill barring wearing of 'religious dress'

Sikhs in the US have slammed a state law that would bar teachers from the community in public schools from wearing "religious dress" including turbans, a move that may spark a racial row.

india Updated: Jul 18, 2009 13:07 IST

Sikhs in the US have slammed a state law that would bar teachers from the community in public schools from wearing "religious dress" including turbans, a move that may spark a racial row.

In effect, the bill passed by the Oregon legislature and now on the governor's desk "prohibit teachers from wearing religiously-mandated attire, including turbans and other distinctive clothes by the Sikh community, in public schools.

According to the bill, education officials and schools would have the power to "prohibit a teacher from wearing religious dress while engaged in the performance of duties as a teacher," the Oregaonlive online reported.

Actually the draft law passed by the Oregon legislature broadens religious freedom in the workplace, but has prompted protests by faith leaders because it exempts schools from the same rights.

The bill, titled the 'Oregon Workplace Religious Freedom Act', grants workers wide religious leeway as long as the activity, clothing or other practices don't cause an undue hardship on the employer.

But the school exemption has highlighted "a glaring hole in Oregon's efforts to expand religious freedoms".

The new law "fails in its essence if it doesn't honestly and comprehensively provide religious freedom for all Oregonians," said Rajdeep Singh Jolly, law director of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund in Washington, DC.

"It smacks of irony," Jolly said. "It takes two steps forward and 10 steps back," he was quoted as saying in the report.