UK College Allows Sikh Students to Sit Exams Wearing Kirpan, After Initially Barring Them

May 14, 2009

Author: Staff Writer

Source: SikhNet

A sixth-form college today said they will allow Sikh students to wear their kirpan, a Sikh article faith, after a 16 year old Sikh girl was stopped two days ago from taking her AS level exams (pre-university) because she wore a kirpan. This ban had also affected two other initiated Sikhs who were also told that they could not sit for their A level exams on Friday. The ban reversal came after the UNITED SIKHS legal team and the Leicester and Nottingham Sikh community leaders worked around the clock with the college to resolve the problem.

Parminder Kaur, 16, who was initiated as an Amritdhari Sikh last month and is mandated to wear her kirpan at all times, was in shock when she telephoned UNITED SIKHS on Tuesday to say that she has been asked to leave the exam hall at the Wyggeston and Queen Elizabeth I College, because she wore a kirpan.

The school principal, Ian Wilson, who responded to the students' plight swiftly said, "We will review our policy with respect to the carrying of the kirpan in the next few weeks and in the meantime we will make every effort to ensure that the students are able to take their exams as normal."

"In my time as principal we have had no tension between (students of) different religious groups and I don't want this to change at all," he added about the college in Leicester, where 12-14, 000 Sikhs live.

"Over the past 24 hours and more I have been feeling stressed and upset at the extremes of which I never believed would be possible, after being removed from my Sociology exam where other students were clearly able to see what was happening," Parminder Kaur said.

"I am glad that the college is allowing me and my fellow Gursikh brother and sister back in. Most of all I am delighted that I have been allowed back into the college to complete my exams wearing my kirpan," she added.

After Parminder Kaur reported the incident, UNITED SIKHS contacted the students' families and local community leaders for their assistance. "As the students were not being allowed to sit their exams on Friday, we instructed a prominent human rights London law firm, Bindmans LLP and engaged the services of the Equality and Human Rights Commission," said Mejindarpal Kaur, UNITED SIKHS Legal Director.