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Sikh pupil removed from school after ban on traditional dagger
October 13 , 2009


A Sikh pupil has been taken out of school after teachers banned him from carrying a traditional dagger.

The 14-year-old boy was told to stop carrying the five-inch (12.5cm) decorated Kirpan after governors at Compton School in Barnet, North London, ruled that it was not safe. The sheathed scimitar is one of the five “articles of faith” in Sikhism that must be carried at all times.

Barnet council suggested he wear a two-inch version of the dagger in a case that had been welded shut but the boy’s parents refused the offer. They removed him from the school saying that the miniature dagger was a replica not a genuine Kirpan.

Mejindarpal Kaur, director of 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.”

Compton is described on its website as a “mixed multi-ethnic 11-16 community school”.

The Department for Schools said it was up to schools to decide their policy on the dagger. If challenged, it would be up to the courts to decide, a spokesman said.

The Kirpan represents non-violence in Sikhism and is a weapon of defence rather than offence. It is also a symbol of the power of truth to cut through untruth and is worn on a cloth belt.

A spokesman for the board of governors at the school said: “The school’s governing body has spent the past two years trying to reach an agreement with the family and to establish the appropriate nature of a religious artefact that can safely be brought into school.

“During this period of time, along with the local authority, we have examined potential compromises after looking at how this issue has been dealt with in other schools, education authorities and elsewhere within the Sikh community and taken legal advice.

“At the moment we are holding a place open for the student should he feel able to wear a Kirpan suitable to bring into school.”


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