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Sikh boy banned from taking holy dagger to school
October 13 , 2009


  A Sikh man bathing with a kirpan

A 14-year-old Sikh boy has been withdrawn from state education after he was banned from wearing a traditional religious dagger to school.

The family of J Singh, whose full name has not been released, have taken out a loan to educate him privately after the ruling from Compton School in Barnet.

The Sikh religion says all baptised males must carry a kirpan. They are legal if carried for religious reasons.

J Singh's older brother, Ravjeet Singh, said: “The kirpan is not a knife. It is an article of faith. This is health and safety gone mad.”

Mejindarpal Kaur, legal director of the community group United Sikhs, said: “The decision is a blow to religious freedom in Barnet schools whilst schools throughout the UK have accommodated Sikh students who wear a kirpan. It poses no greater risk to other students than scissors, cutters or cutlery.”

The school said the boy could wear a two-inch replica welded shut in its sheath but the family rejected the offer. In a statement the governors said they were keeping a place for the “valued pupil who is expected to get good grades in his GCSEs”.

They added: “The governing body has spent the past two years trying to reach an agreement with the family. We have examined potential compromises...and taken legal advice.”

The boy's father Bhupinder said he had not found an alternative state school as many had long waiting lists. The private school, which charges £6,000 a year, allows pupils to wear the kirpan.

Schools minister Diana Johnson said such disputes should be resolved locally but “it would ultimately be for the courts to decide” if the school acted correctly.

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