Sunday, November 16, 2008

European Parliament launches voice for Sikh causes

Liz Lynne, British member of European Parliament today (November 10) launched the All- Party Sikh Interest Group in the European Parliament amid controversy of whether to allow “Kirpan” (small dagger) wearing Sikhs to access the main parliament building.
In a press statement, the European Parliamentarian said, “This new Parliamentary group is intended to look in particular at how Sikhs are treated within Europe. Unfortunately it would seem that we do not have to go very far to find examples of the discrimination that many Sikh’s face everyday.”
MEP Lynne, who is also a member of the European Parliament’s Sub- Committee on Human Rights said, “I am deeply disappointed that the European Parliamentary authorities refuse to recognise the right of Sikh people to wear the Kirpan. The Kirpan is not a weapon, it is a religious symbol. This is not a question of security but one of religious freedom.”

Citing the case of United Kingdom, one of the 27 member states of the European Union, MEP said, “In the UK the right to wear the Kirpan is enshrined in law. This includes allowing Sikh’s wearing the Kirpan to enter the Palace of Westminster. Therefore I do not see why the rules should be different in the European Parliament.”  
MEP Lynne, whose initiative it was to launch the new interest group lamented that they had hoped to hold the first meeting within the parliament but parliamentary authorities refused to allow Sikh members entry, adding, "I very much hope that now we have this all party interest group on Sikh issues that a number of problems facing this community across the EU can be addressed."
This is the third time that leading Sikhs have been denied entry to the Parliament due to wearing the ceremonial Kirpan (the dagger).

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