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Arjan Singh, a follower of  the Sikh faith, was denied entry into Wembley Stadium to watch Italy vs. Spain match. He had travelled with a friend from Rugby and spent £300 each on tickets. Unfortunately, security guards at the stadium stopped him from entering due to the size of his kirpan, a religious article of faith. Arjan Singh felt unfairly treated and compared his experience to being treated like a criminal.

What is a kirpan exactly?

In the Sikh religion, there are five Ks that hold significant importance, and one of them is the kirpan. This is a sacred item that must be worn by Sikhs who have undergone baptism, and it holds immense religious and cultural significance. While it may appear to be a small sword or dagger, its true meaning goes beyond its physical appearance.

It's essential to understand the cultural and religious significance of the kirpan and how it is an important symbol of faith for those who practice Sikhism. While security measures must be in place to ensure public safety, it's crucial to handle situations like these with sensitivity and understanding.

The incident 

Arjan and his friend Martin had to wait for more than two hours and speak with security guards before leaving Wembley Stadium. Arjan explained to the security guard that he was carrying a kirpan, a ceremonial dagger, which is allowed by the law of the land and the stadium's policy required him to inform the security guards prior to entry.

 The security guards asked him to wait and brought in someone higher up. They took photos of the kirpan and told him he cannot wear it. Arjan felt frustrated and exhausted, as they were not given seats while waiting, despite explaining his chronic back pain. They felt like criminals as the security guard kept on repeating that he cannot enter with a sharp blade, and other people were overhearing the conversation. 

The friends claimed that the security guards did not allow them entry, even when the kirpan was initially measured at six inches, which complied with the stadium's policy. However, according to Martin, the kirpan was measured twice, and the second time with a tape measure, which showed it to be 6.5 inches, slightly above Wembley's permitted size.

Wembley Stadium’s policy on kirpans says, “Kirpans are allowed to be worn inside Wembley Stadium – however it must not be visible to the public and should be worn underneath clothes in order to ensure the highest possible safety at all times.”

Final verdict 

Arjan and Martin were offered tickets to watch the England vs Denmark match at Wembley by a member of the Football Association after a previous incident. Arjan brought a smaller kirpan with him to the match and he was pleasantly surprised by the treatment he received from the FA staff. According to him, the staff was extremely accommodating and escorted them from the moment they arrived at the stadium until they reached their seats. Arjan felt that the experience was amazing and appreciated the way the FA handled the situation.

*Based on an article by Neha Gohil, published in My London News on 7th July 2021

 

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