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School bans Sikh over holy dagger
Page last updated at 07:28 GMT, Tuesday, 13 October 2009 08:28 UK


  The kirpan is one of five 'articles of faith' Sikhs must carry

A Sikh has been withdrawn from a north London school after he was banned from wearing his traditional dagger.

The boy, 14, was told not to carry the 5in (12.7cm) kirpan at the Compton School in Barnet after governors ruled it was a health and safety risk.

Under Sikhism the sheathed scimitar is one of five "articles of faith" that must be carried at all times.

Barnet Council said it has no duty to find the boy another school as he was not excluded and left voluntarily.

The council also proposed he wore a 2in version of the dagger welded shut.

But that was rejected as the family said the miniature dagger was a replica and not a genuine kirpan.

'No greater risk'

Mejindarpal Kaur, director of community group United Sikhs, said: "The Compton School's decision is a blow to religious freedom in Barnet - schools throughout the UK have accommodated Sikh students who wear a kirpan.

"The school should recognise that the Kirpan poses no greater risk to other students than scissors, cutters or cutlery that exist in greater numbers in schools and are regularly handled by students."

The Department for Children, Schools and Families has said it is up to schools to make their own policy on the carrying of the kirpan and that, if challenged, it would be up to the courts to decide.

In Sikhism the kirpan is an instrument of non-violence that should be used to prevent harm from being done to a defenceless person. It also represents the power of truth to cut through untruth.

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