Birmingham University, UK, apologises for confusing Sikh langar with Islamic campaign

The University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, has apologised after it removed a social media post that seemed to confuse Sikh students with Muslims.

Langar on Campus, University of Birmingham
The ‘Langar on Campus’ event in February 2024 marks the 20th year of the Sikh sewa initiative at the University of Birmingham. Screenshot courtesy: Instagram/sikhshabad

According to a report in The Birmingham Mail, the university post implied that a ‘Langar on Campus’ event organised by the university’s Sikh Society earlier in February 2024 was part of an Islamic Awareness Week.

An Instagram account of the university tagged the free meals event, inspired by the Sikh concept of langar, in a post with the text ‘Discover Islam Week’.

“It is disappointing but very revealing to see those in charge of the public image of the University of Birmingham (UoB) are ignorant regarding the communities at the university,” said Jasveer Singh, spokesperson of the Sikh Press Association (PA), which highlighted the error on social media.

“There is clearly an issue with the training and education given to UoB staff. Sikhs have been a prominent segment of the University of Birmingham community for decades,” he said.

Several people took to social media to comment on the error, with remarks such as “shocking” and “unbelievable”.

“The university sincerely apologises for any offence or upset this has caused,” a UoB spokesperson said.

“We recognise this post was incorrect. It was identified shortly after being posted and immediately deleted. The university respects and celebrates the diversity of our community and continually works to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment. We have made contact with relevant individuals and groups to apologise directly and listen to their views,” added the spokesperson.

Open to all regardless of faith or belief, the ‘Langar on Campus’ initiative offers people the chance to enjoy a free vegetarian dish, with vegan options consisting of lentil soup, vegetable curry and chapattis, all freshly prepared locally in Birmingham.

This month marked 20 years since the first ‘Langar on Campus’ was organised at the University of Birmingham. The event is described as a great opportunity to learn more about the Sikh faith and to meet members of the university’s Sikh Society. Now, over 15 universities in the UK host similar events.