Canada Allows Sikh Students To Carry Daggers

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled unanimously that a Sikh elementary school student may carry a ceremonial dagger while at school.

In early March, the high court held that a Sikh boy’s religious liberty was violated when Montreal school officials barred him from wearing a ceremonial dagger called a kir­pan.  School board attorney arguments that the kirpan could be used as a weapon were rejected, reported the Religion News Ser­vice.

The Supreme Court said suggestions that the kirpan was intended to be a weapon is “disrespectful to believers in the Sikh religion and does not take into account Canadian values based on multiculturalism.” The high court concluded that the boy’s rights under Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms had been violated.

“A total prohibition against wearing a kirpan to school undermines the value of this religious symbol and sends students the message that some religious practices do not merit the same protection as others,” the court wrote in Balvir Singh Multani v. Commission scolaire Marquerite-Bourgeoys.

The judges also noted that there were many other objects in the public schools that could be easily obtained and used as weapons, “such as scissors, pencils and baseball bats.”