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Minreet Kaur: Amritdhari Sikh 'Humiliated' As Wembley Barred Entry Due To Kirpan Size
Security made Singh feel like a “criminal” as they fumbled with Kirpan measurements and stadium policy
July 9, 2021 | 2.5 min. read | Original Reporting
Arjan Singh, after paying £300.00 for tickets to the Italy versus Spain semi-final earlier this week, was denied entry to Wembley due to the size of his Kirpan.
Security made Singh feel like a “criminal” as they fumbled with Kirpan measurements and stadium policy.
“As I’ve had around two days to think about this, I increasingly feel like I was made to feel as if I was almost a criminal and as if I should be frightened to speak up about it, not least given a remarkable attempt to censor and dissuade me from talking to the media about this. All I wanted to do after 18 months locked down was watch my favourite sport, with the game of my personal choice, which brings joy to so many people,” he said.
A spokesperson from the England Football Association (FA) shared that Kirpans are permitted, as per policy “as long as they meet the required size regulations”. However, it was found by staff that “the Kirpan was in breach of Wembley Stadium policy due to its size.”
Singh refused to part with his Kirpan as a solution, so he was provided an “alternative set of tickets”, the spokesperson shared.
Singh claims he was “humiliated” by the manner in which staff treated him in front of the public and barred his entry. He was initially told, after measurements, that the Kirpan was of acceptable size as per stadium policy, only to have that acceptance retracted upon re-measurement.
“In the end, it was only due to our own public-led advocacy on Twitter that we were able to raise awareness and this is what I’ll continue to do so Sikhs and other minorities aren’t made to feel singled out,” he adds.
Sikh organizations are not impressed with the manner in which the issue was handled by Wembley, especially by what seems to have been untrained staff that appeared to be oblivious to the policy and guidelines.
“This particular incident is nothing less than discrimination, as there are clear guidelines provided by Wembley stadium around the understanding of the Kirpan. We therefore request Wembley stadium officials to regularly train all staff and stewards around the Sikh articles of faith especially the Kirpan so that such incidents can be avoided in the future,” shared a spokesperson for the Sikh Council UK.
The Sikh PA helped amplify Arjun Singh’s advocacy via Twitter on the matter and shared with Baaz that an Amritdhari Sikh was “barred from entering due to what can only be described as religious discrimination”.
The SikhPA had discussed the status of the Kirpans within Wembley stadium with senior members of the FA in 2019.
“It is disappointing that two years later their policy on this is still preventing Sikhs from watching games. We will be reaching out again to the FA to facilitate further discussion on this reoccurring issue.”
Preet Kaur Gill, MP for Birmingham and Edgbaston, has called for a broader conversation around Kirpan accommodation, the inclusion of Sikh organizations in formulating and spreading policy, and how to treat Amritdhari Sikhs with more respect in public spaces.
“One of my huge concerns is they are not engaging with those Sikh groups that actually are connected to the grassroots,” which is why, she claims, information around policy and guidelines do not get widely disseminated.
Minreet Kaur is an award-winning freelance journalist based in the UK. Daughter of the legendary skipping Sikh which won report of the year in 2020. She has written for BBC, Sky, The Independent, HuffPost, Al Jazeera, and The Tribune. She writes about religion, culture, communities, and human rights. You find Minreet on Twitter at @minkaur5.
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