CONTROVERSY surrounding proposals by the French government to ban all conspicuous signs of religious affiliation in their schools has spread to Ealing.

Ealing Mayor Cllr Gurcharan Singh took part in a demonstration in Paris last weekend and wrote to the French Embassy in London to express his concern about the issue.

He wrote: "The legislation will increase discrimination against Sikhs, Muslims and Jews in schools and other state maintained sectors.

"As one belonging to the Sikh faith, I am concerned that the Sikhs will be particularly affected.

"For male Sikhs, the turban is a mandatory article of faith as much as hijab for Muslims girls. Wearing the turban is a religious commitment."

Cllr Singh, who himself wears a turban, joined more than ten thousand demonstrators from all faiths in Paris to take part in a peaceful demonstration against the proposed new law on Saturday 1st February.

Ealing is a multi-cultural borough with a large Sikh community in Southall.

Cllr Singh felt it was his duty as Ealing Mayor to bring his concerns to the French government.

He told the Times: "Ealing has a substantial number of ethnic minorities and I regard this as a fundamental human rights issue and basic rights issue.

"This is not just about ethnic minorities. This new law will mean Christians will not be able to wear a cross, Jews will not be able to wear their skull cap and Muslims will not be able to wear their hijab.

"I thought the West was a protector of people's rights to practice their faith and religion and if this happens where will it stop?"

The proposed legislation is still going through the French parliament but indications show that it is likely to be approved."