University of Birmingham called ‘ignorant’ after confusing Sikhs and Muslims in online post

The university has since apologised for its comment on an Instagram post

The University of Birmingham has received backlash after a social media post saw the university confuse Sikhs and Muslims.

In an Instagram post, the university incorrectly stated that the recent Langar celebration which took place on campus was part of the university’s Discover Islam Week.

The university has since been forced to apologise for its mistake, Birmingham Live reports.

Taking place from February 6th to February 9th, Discover Islam is an annual awareness campaign run by the university’s Islamic Society.

Birmingham students within the university’s Sikh Society hosted an on campus Langar event on 5th February. An annual tradition on campus for the past 20 years, the annual event promotes the Sikh concept of Langar, an important aspect of the Sikh faith. The concept sees free meals cooked in a communal kitchen and which are served to all people within gurdwaras. Similar events are held at over 15 universities across the UK, where students serve free vegetarian meals on campus to others.

However, a staff member managing the University of Birmingham Instagram account tagged their event in an Instagram Story post with the added text “Discover Islam Week”. Discover Islam Week is an annual awareness campaign run by the university’s Islamic Society and was held between February 6th to February 9th.

The post was deleted soon after and the university has since apologised for the mistake. However the blunder has resulted in disappointment from members of the Sikh community.

Jasveer Singh, Sikh Press Association senior press officer, said: “It is disappointing but very revealing to see those in charge of the public image of the UOB are ignorant regarding the communities at the university.

“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.

“Aspects of Sikhi are taught at UOB. It has Sikh lecturers and regularly hosts Sikh events.

“Yet, none of that has penetrated enough to ensure those coming in to represent UOB are aware of even the basics of Sikhi. The UOB swiftly deleted the post but they owe a wider apology to two groups for the mistake and they also must be transparent about how staff are trained to ensure they recognise the diversity at the university.

“More Sikhs are practicing their faith in more traditional ways and understandings about the community is important. Sikhs are part of the fabric of Birmingham. These mistakes should not happen in 2024.”

Comments on social media have branded the mistake as “unbelievable” and “‘not right and shocking”.

A University of Birmingham spokesperson said: “The university sincerely apologises for any offence or upset this has caused.

“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.”

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