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Supreme Court overturns ban on Sikh dagger

Chris

Well-Known TRIBEr
Supreme Court overturns ban on Sikh dagger

Last Updated Thu, 02 Mar 2006 10:01:16 EST
CBC News
A Montreal Sikh boy can now wear his ceremonial dagger in the classroom after Canada's top court overturned a ban on the kirpan.

In its 8-0 judgment, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Thursday that a total ban infringes guarantees of religious freedom under the Charter of Rights.


Gurbaj Singh
The case stems from a November 2001 incident at Ste-Catherine-Laboure school in LaSalle. Gurbaj Singh Multani's cloth-wrapped dagger came loose from around his waist and fell to the ground at the elementary school.

The school's principal ordered the 12-year-old to remove the kirpan, but Gurbaj left school rather than remove the 10-centimetre long dagger, which he says is a key component of his faith. He eventually switched to another school.


FROM MAY 17, 2002: Sikh boy wins kirpan case in Quebec

His family took the case to court, and in May 2002 the Quebec Superior Court ruled Gurbaj could wear his kirpan to school if it was wrapped in heavy cloth inside a wooden case, underneath his clothing.

Quebec's government at the time, the Parti Québécois, appealed the decision. In 2004, the Quebec Court of Appeal struck down the decision, ruling the kirpan had the makings of a weapon and was dangerous.

Although banning the weapon was a hindrance to freedom of religion, the court ruled that community safety comes first.


FROM CBC ARCHIVES: Religion in the Classroom

McGill University professor Jack Jedwab said Canadians are looking for guidance in determining where to draw the line when it comes to issues of religious freedom.

"People are looking for some leadership on this point and hopefully they'll get some from the Supreme Court," he said.

Manjeet Singh, the Sikh chaplain at McGill and Concordia universities, who also assisted Gurbaj Singh's legal team, said baptized Sikhs believed the kirpan is a symbol of courage, freedom and responsibility to stand up for their rights.

"It is one of the five articles of faith that every baptized Sikh is supposed to have on their person, all the time," said Manjeet Singh.

Craig Buchanan, the vice-president of English affairs with for the Quebec Federation of Parents Committee, said the issue is divisive.

"It's a tricky situation. If you start to try to limit the religious freedoms, then what's that going to do to other religious freedoms?" said Buchanan. "And if you seek to compromise safety in schools, how far is that going to go as far as safety in the schools?"


Headlines: Canada
 

judge wopner

TRIBE Member
this is great to know because after a few dudes were stabbed at my school with ceremonial daggers people werent so rosy on the notion of religious freedom when that freedom entails teenagers with knives.

any religion has to adapt to a reasonable extent in a multicultural society,
when those rights can reasonably infringe on others, especially when it comes to personal saftey,

in france they took it perhaps too far banning outward signs of religion in schools like crosses and star's of david and eventually muslim headdress.

but keeping knives out of schools seems reasonable enough.
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Religous freedoms cannot trump public safety. A dagger is a weapon and weapons are not allowed in public schools. We're not saying you can't express your religion only that knives aren't allowed in schools.
 

dig this

TRIBE Member
i was just gonna post this article too...

Canada is fucked when it comes to religious freedoms. We're bending over backwards to anyone that says they are not receiving fair treatment. When you emigrate to a country you have to be willing to leave some shit back home where you came from. I think our system & our Charter of Rights are totally taken advantage of.
 

Colm

TRIBE Member
Its a difficult decision - and the 8-0 ruling makes me worry about the competency of the Court.

There is a fine line between restricting religious expression in the name of public safety and restricting religious expression in the name of irreligion. I think the SCC is anxious to appear 'balanced' and 'moderate' to religious groups in the wake of well-founded accusations of judicial activism, and may well have sacrificed public safety in the process.
 
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dig this

TRIBE Member
Essentially, they went beyond respecting somebody's differences, but gave that person more rights than the majority of Canadians because of his religious beliefs.
 

judge wopner

TRIBE Member
Ditto Much said:
Religous freedoms cannot trump public safety. A dagger is a weapon and weapons are not allowed in public schools. We're not saying you can't express your religion only that knives aren't allowed in schools.
i just read soem of the court decision, they did make a good point that while a knife is a weapon, there are many things allowed at school like exacto knives, those geometry kit spikes and scisorrs that could easlily be wielded as weapons, so on that basis, they didnt feel a knife being a weapon sufficient grounds to ban it.

i like how they specifically mentioned in the article that it accidentally fell out from his clothes in the school yard. i think they are trying to wash over what may have been something quite different as every sikh i ever knew in school that has worn a kirpan had it tighly secured to their body, and the notion of it falling off in such a manner is akin to suggestig a yamika can just fly off a jewish guys head with a bit of wind...

its fishy.
 

AdRiaN

TRIBE Member
I'm not well-versed in Sikh traditions, but if the dagger is purely ceremonial, could a Sikh not simply wear the symbol around his or her neck (like Christians wear a crucifix), or could the dagger be more of a dagger-shaped object rather than carrying an actual blade?

These seem like reasonable compromises at the individual level, and do not require Supreme Court intervention.
 

judge wopner

TRIBE Member
AdRiaN said:
I'm not well-versed in Sikh traditions, but if the dagger is purely ceremonial, could a Sikh not simply wear the symbol around his or her neck (like Christians wear a crucifix), or could the dagger be more of a dagger-shaped object rather than carrying an actual blade?

These seem like reasonable compromises at the individual level, and do not require Supreme Court intervention.
i asked the same thing to hot sikh girls who can from a symbolic standpoint pretned to date within their culture while sleeping with me.

everybody wins!!!!
 
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Booty Bits

TRIBE Member
i think that the kirpan issue has been blown out of proportion. if a kid is so devout of a sikh that he is wearing a kirpan, it would follow that he would have enough respect for the meaning behind it that he wouldn't use it in an act of violence.

i know wopner said some kids were stabbed with one at his school but i seriously doubt that that is a) the full story b) a common occurence.

basically, i don't have a problem with people being allowed to wear kirpans in public.

p.s. dig this, you're verging on some serious anti-immigrant rhetoric there buddy. they should leave parts of their religion where they came from? why? and why do you assume that a sikh is not a canadian? what if this guy was born and raised in canada and is still a devout sikh? is he still supposed to bend to your ideas of how he should express his faith?


some of the shit i read on this board blows my mind.
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Booty Bits said:
i think that the kirpan issue has been blown out of proportion. if a kid is so devout of a sikh that he is wearing a kirpan, it would follow that he would have enough respect for the meaning behind it that he wouldn't use it in an act of violence.

i know wopner said some kids were stabbed with one at his school but i seriously doubt that that is a) the full story b) a common occurence.

basically, i don't have a problem with people being allowed to wear kirpans in public.

p.s. dig this, you're verging on some serious anti-immigrant rhetoric there buddy. they should leave parts of their religion where they came from? why? and why do you assume that a sikh is not a canadian? what if this guy was born and raised in canada and is still a devout sikh? is he still supposed to bend to your ideas of how he should express his faith?


some of the shit i read on this board blows my mind.


Good argument!


Would you be okay with people carrying swiss army knives at school?

Would it make any difference to you if the person was devout or not. What if the boy in question had never ever before shown any interest in his religion and decides one day to beging to wear a kirpan while not following any other of the religous obligations.

How about this... What if a non sikh decides to wear a kirpan to school to mock the religion? Do we have to ask the person what religion they are when they walk in with a kirpan to decide if its allowed or not?


The kirpan is unique in that it is in every real sense a weapon. Sikh must remove it when boarding a plane why would a school be different.
 

Vincent Vega

TRIBE Member
Ditto Much said:
The kirpan is unique in that it is in every real sense a weapon. Sikh must remove it when boarding a plane why would a school be different.
This is actually a good point if accurate. I wasn't aware that it must be removed when boarding a plane. Presumably the reasoning there being that it could fall into the wrong hands. Interesting parallel although the impact of a would-be hijacker getting hold of a knife is potentially far more lethal than if it ended up in another kid's hands in a school. Nevertheless.

My feelings are mixed on this issue. On one hand, I instantly grimace at things being justified and fought for on the basis of "religious rights" but admittedly that's my own personal bias showing. I also question the wisdom of allowing another potential weapon into a school where it could, technically, be used as anything but a religious symbol.

On the other hand, there have never been any documented cases of violences involving kirpans in a Canadian school (not sure about your story of the stabbings Wopner), at least not according to several news reports I've watched over the last couple of days. Secondly, we allow kids access to sharp scissors in schools so it would a tad disingenuous to prohibit a concealed knife on the basis of potential violence.

(but make no mistake....it IS a concealed knife)

Interesting topic with good points for discussion (Dig This's absurd views aside)
 

AdRiaN

TRIBE Member
Booty Bits said:
if a kid is so devout of a sikh that he is wearing a kirpan, it would follow that he would have enough respect for the meaning behind it that he wouldn't use it in an act of violence.
But that's the whole point ... if the kirpan is not to be used in an act of violence (i.e., it's a religious symbol rather than a weapon), then why the insistance that it be an actual sharp-bladed dagger? Nobody is asking Sikhs to suppress an expression of their faith, but rather offering a fair compromise between religious freedom and public safety.

From what I have read, the kirpan is a symbol of struggle and meant to inspire Sikhs in their daily lives, much like the Christian crucifix. I do not understand why the symbol must be manifested in such a specific physical way. The whole point of a symbol is that it represents something by association rather than actually BEING something. (if that makes sense?)
 
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Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Hey guys lets go easy on Dig This. If we can't express unpopular ideas and can't discuss things without taking the politically correct view we are going to have very few conversations worth having.
 

Vincent Vega

TRIBE Member
dig this said:
When you emigrate to a country you have to be willing to leave some shit back home where you came from.
Ditto....one isn't being "politically correct" when refuting this type of stuff. See other examples within this very thread for how to convey a contrary position without resorting to absurdity.
 

judge wopner

TRIBE Member
Booty Bits said:
i think that the kirpan issue has been blown out of proportion. if a kid is so devout of a sikh that he is wearing a kirpan, it would follow that he would have enough respect for the meaning behind it that he wouldn't use it in an act of violence.

i know wopner said some kids were stabbed with one at his school but i seriously doubt that that is a) the full story b) a common occurence.

basically, i don't have a problem with people being allowed to wear kirpans in public.

p.s. dig this, you're verging on some serious anti-immigrant rhetoric there buddy. they should leave parts of their religion where they came from? why? and why do you assume that a sikh is not a canadian? what if this guy was born and raised in canada and is still a devout sikh? is he still supposed to bend to your ideas of how he should express his faith?


some of the shit i read on this board blows my mind.
i dont agree with people saying "keep your religion back where you came from" either but that doesnt really BLOW MY MIND in that sense. does this kind of opinion really shock you that much? actually if anything blows my mind its the inability of people to objectivley look at the issue for what it truly is: freedom of expression. relgiion is the sub-text.

of course if they were a debout sikh they would have no reason to pull the knife and use it. theres never really been an implication that somehow sikhs are more prone to violoence or that carrying around a dagger implicitly means you will use it if a fight breaks out.

yes tehre have been stabbings with kirpans, i find it utterly hilarious that people have no issue being hyper critical of media fact checking when it comes to politics but belevie whatever they hear when it comes to a social issue. kids are kids no matter what colour and many kids go to church every sunday but still commit crimes, what make you think that just because someone is a sikh wearing a kirpan that they are somehow not as criminally minded as a crucifix wearing christian?

if youve ever seen how the dagger is supposed to be secured its quite fititng and should not just "fall out" while on the school yard the way the newspapers have craftily described. this kid may have simply not secured it properly, or perhas another ignorant kid mabey saw something and tried to yank it. just give a second consideration as to why the media have been very specific to say the this entire incident began when the dagger "accidentally came loose and fell from beneath his clothing".

i dont know the details of what happend, im not implying he was using it for a weapon but i think its fair to say that kirpans werent much of an issue until they started "falling" out of dudes shirts.

think of all the stabbings that have taken place where no one was ever charged and no weapon was ever recoverd... at least the high schools i went to this was an unfortunate event sometimes.

yes kids have been stabbed with kirpans and yes kirpans have been turned against the bearer. both are brutal occurances.

again this comes down to freedom of expression, as freedom to practice religion is in a basic sense the freedom to express inwardly and outwardly their bleiefs. carrying a dagger for some sikhs is an expression of their beliefs, albeit a symbolic one.

why is it okay to insist people remove the dagger to get on a plane but not in school where often violence and weaponry are legitimate threats?

i think its rascist to suggest they shouldnt ever carry the knife, but it does beg the question if a sikh can wear a dagger why cant a non-sikh carry one? no one ever checks the credentials of the person carrying the dagger to ensure they are a sikh, its a cultural presumption people are making in light of this court decision, they see a dude with a turban and looks east indian so he gets to carry the dagger. can i simply claim to be a sihk and carry one? are there rules that demand only a dagger can be worn with the turban? not all sikhs carry turbans, or kirpans...

it opens a can of worms, and suffice to say, how many stabbings would have to happen to make kirpans a legit concern?
 

janiecakes

TRIBE Member
judge wopner said:
i think its rascist to suggest they shouldnt ever carry the knife, but it does beg the question if a sikh can wear a dagger why cant a non-sikh carry one? no one ever checks the credentials of the person carrying the dagger to ensure they are a sikh, its a cultural presumption people are making in light of this court decision, they see a dude with a turban and looks east indian so he gets to carry the dagger. can i simply claim to be a sihk and carry one? are there rules that demand only a dagger can be worn with the turban? not all sikhs carry turbans, or kirpans...
from an article in the toronto star today:

The nuanced ruling, which contains three sets of reasons that ultimately arrive at the same conclusion, says schools can establish some limits on wearing a kirpan, but that a prohibition constitutes an unfair limitation to religious freedom.

The rules at the Peel public school board, for instance, require that a formal request be made to the school principal, that the wearer be a Khalsa Sikh (baptized); and that the kirpan be no longer than 17.8 cm, remain sheathed and be secured in place under clothing. The right to carry the knife may be revoked if it is abused.
 

judge wopner

TRIBE Member
janiecakes said:
from an article in the toronto star today:

nice article,

accept if schools policy is trumped by the charter of rights and freedoms, is a school policy that lay's the ground work for religious expression legally valid?

a sikh can carry a kirpan not because he was baptised or has confirmation form a religious authority that he is a sikh, he can carry the dagger because he subscribes to a religion that requests it of him, and our laws permit such expressions of religion in spite of a school ban on weapons.

so again, where does teh school get off demanding formal credentials to give permission for something that the court has ruled perfectly legal?

seems like a big grey area, and again why limit it on airplanes but not at schools and the like?
 
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deafplayer

TRIBE Member
seems like a big grey area, and again why limit it on airplanes but not at schools and the like?


are you seriously asking this?

In a school, a kid cannot realistically commit mass murder with a blade, unlike a plane, where everyone knows how easy it is to do
 

judge wopner

TRIBE Member
deafplayer said:
seems like a big grey area, and again why limit it on airplanes but not at schools and the like?


are you seriously asking this?

In a school, a kid cannot realistically commit mass murder with a blade, unlike a plane, where everyone knows how easy it is to do
hey without the "quote" feature its just not a peircing!! ha!! jj

yes i am, the question is of intent. is the increased potential for violence sufficient to warrant a limitation on freedom of relgion? where does that line get drawn.

if its reasonable that at some schools there are situations where weapons are used, it is reasonable to assume that a teenager carrying a sharp dagger could reasonably make use of it during a confrontation?

yes its a very grey area to me. what about geting into clubs, do teh bouncers have the right to make you remove the kirpan?
 

janiecakes

TRIBE Member
judge wopner said:
so again, where does teh school get off demanding formal credentials to give permission for something that the court has ruled perfectly legal?
the court did not say 'everyone and their mother can now arm themselves to the teeth in schools'. they ruled that a ban on kirpans is unfairly limiting religious freedoms for sikhs. the schools have every right to have a system in place to ensure that people are carrying daggers for religious reasons, and not for shits and giggles.
 

judge wopner

TRIBE Member
janiecakes said:
the court did not say 'everyone and their mother can now arm themselves to the teeth in schools'. they ruled that a ban on kirpans is unfairly limiting religious freedoms for sikhs. the schools have every right to have a system in place to ensure that people are carrying daggers for religious reasons, and not for shits and giggles.
"puts down the knife...stops laughing"

why must you take the punch bowl away right in the middle of the party?

i dont think anyone is saying this is an open door for everyone to carry weapons. im looking at the broader implications of this.

again i ask: if its one's religious freedom to carry a dagger, what limits does a school have to say whom is allowed to express their religious freedom and who isnt?
 

deafplayer

TRIBE Member
judge wopner said:
hey without the "quote" feature its just not a peircing!! ha!! jj

yes i am, the question is of intent. is the increased potential for violence sufficient to warrant a limitation on freedom of relgion? where does that line get drawn.

if its reasonable that at some schools there are situations where weapons are used, it is reasonable to assume that a teenager carrying a sharp dagger could reasonably make use of it during a confrontation?

yes its a very grey area to me. what about geting into clubs, do teh bouncers have the right to make you remove the kirpan?
Im not a Sikh and I've never talked to one about this or heard what they have to say, but... I would expect to hear something like:
The meaning of the dagger is very different to one who wears it for religious purposes
in fact thats the entire point - hes wearing it b/c of his beliefs, not for violent tactical purposes

He does not wear it as a weapon, in the same way the ceremonial mace in our house of commons is not thought of as a weapon but as a ritual object of purely symbolic value and function


It does nto occur to MPs to grab it in a heated debate and swing it around, taking out opposition MPs until stopped by a shower of bullets
 
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