Sikhs denied entry to European Parliament

A group of Sikhs invited to the European Parliament to discuss freedom of religion, were not allowed into the parliament building because they were each carrying one of their religious symbols, a Kirpan.

A planned meeting that had to discuss 'Freedom of Sikhs in Europe to practice their faith,' was cancelled, as the majority of the Sikhs wanting to participate were denied entry into the parliament as they were wearing a Kirpan.

Kirpan, a ceremonial religious dagger, is meant to symbolize a Sikh's duty to fight against oppression.

It was only after some hours and the intervention of various MEPs that 12 out of the 150 Sikh visitors group were granted access to the parliament.

"The Sikhs came from all over Europe to get parliamentarians to understand religious and cultural reality," said British Labour MEP, Neena Gil.

"It's a great shame that parliament responded to draw this bridge on religious tolerance," Ms Gil added.

Britsh MEP Derek Clark said that he will be demanding an apology for the Sikh community.

"I will be writing in the strongest terms to the European Parliament protesting at what seems quite apparent to be racist behaviour on the part of the European Parliament," he added.

Jaminder Singh, from the British young Sikhs, said that religious symbols are fundamental for Sikh followers.

"I was very disappointed and very upset especially from the European Parliament as it shows ignorance and inconsistency in countries across Europe," he added.

"Every person, individual, must be able to express religious freedom." said Mr Singh.

"The freedom of Sikhs in Europe to visibly practice their faith is a major concern. For the last years the right to wear Sikh turban in France, schools, and when obtaining documentation such as passports, have been challenged by authorities," Mr Singh remarked.

The visitor groups included Sikhs from France, Britain, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.