London, June 17: A 14-year-old Sikh girl in the UK is fighting against her school's uniform policy that debarred her from the school for wearing 'kara', a symbol of Sikhism. The girl refused to remove the religious bracelet as, she said, she felt compelled to "protect the rights of all Sikh children" who wish to wear the symbols of their faith. "I never thought I would be forced by a school to choose between my religion and my education," The Independent quoted her as saying.
According to the paper, the girl's family has delivered a petition to Downing Street, calling on Prime Minister Gordon Brown to intervene. The petition has been signed at 150 Gurudwaras and more than 250 Sikh organisations, with more than 100 MPs supporting it. The Aberdare School for Girls in south Wales insisted that Sarika Singh take classes on her own for two months before excluding her in November for refusing to take off the kara - one of the five symbols of the Sikh faith that baptised followers are expected to wear at all times. The school authorities maintained that she was forbidden because the school's uniform policy forbade all forms of jewellery, including religious symbols.
But, the girl's family and supporters, backed by civil liberties group Liberty, say the rules breach race relations and human rights laws which specifically protect Sikhs.
Sarika started wearing the 'kara' after a trip to India in 2005. Her parents said the school let her wear the bracelet for nearly two years and claimed that it was only when they complained about Sarika being bullied for being a Sikh that the school insisted that she should remove it.
A spokesman for the school, which lists "tolerance of other races, religions" among its core values, said: "Our policy remains, as it has over the past six months, no comment."