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A Sikh Principal, Too English for a Largely Muslim School
by Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura
As a Sikh and second-generation Briton running a public school made up mostly of Muslim students, Balwant Bains was at the center of the issues facing multicultural Britain, including the perennial question of balancing religious precepts and cultural identity against assimilation.
But in January, Mr. Bains stepped down as the principal of the Saltley School and Specialist Science College, saying he could no longer do the job in the face of relentless criticism from the Muslim-dominated school board. It had pressed him, unsuccessfully, to replace some courses with Islamic and Arabic studies, segregate girls and boys and drop a citizenship class on tolerance and democracy in Britain.
"I suppose I was a threat, giving these children more British values, for them to be integrated into society," Mr. Bains said in his first interview since the controversy over his departure.
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