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Canadians allow Kirpan at school


by Sunny on 3rd March, 2006 at 10:32 pm    

The Canadian Supreme Court has ruled it ok for Sikh kids to wear the Kirpan (dagger, pictured) at school.

The specific case that went to the Supreme Court involves Gurbaj Singh Multani, now 17. Five years ago, he accidentally dropped his kirpan in the schoolyard of a Montreal elementary school.

Parents of other children pressured the local school board to ban the dagger, because of a zero-tolerance policy concerning weapons. Gurbaj’s parents sued, and the case wound its way through the courts for several years.

Not everyone is happy though and this ruling is likely to spark a debate about religious symbols in classrooms. Anyone know if the Kirpan allowed here?

For the uninitiated, the Kirpan is one of the five K’s that baptised Sikhs, known as Khalsa Sikhs, are obliged to wear. Although most of the Sikh Gurus did wear them anyway, it was codified by the tenth Guru - Sri Gobind Singh.

As an aside, United Sikhs is challenging a French government on allowing turbans in driver’s licence photos.



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56 Comments   |  


  1. Sunny — on 3rd March, 2006 at 11:08 pm  

    My cousin sent me an email with some thoughts on this:

    —————————————-
    A) As it stands, the Kirpan is a required article of faith for
    baptised Sikhs. It is one of five articles of faith required by all
    baptised Sikhs (the other articles are: Kesh (hair), Kanga (comb),
    Kara (steel bracelet), Kashera (underwear)) Each of the articles of
    faith represent an ideal to which the Sikh should strive towards and
    the article itself acts as a daily reminder. The Kirpan symbolizes
    sovereignty from the state (a Sikh should not obey tyrannical
    governments) and reminds the wearer to always stand up for themselves
    and others in need. For these reasons, baptised Sikhs should be
    allowed to carry their Kirpans. We don’t have child baptisms, but some
    parents go ahead and do so regardless. Gurbaj (the kid in question)
    was 12 when he was baptised which, in my opinion, was a bit on the
    young side.

    B) The Kirpan came into being during the mughal reign over India, and
    Sikhs used it then to defend not only their own rights and freedoms,
    but also those of neighbours and strangers. Since we live in an
    orderly, just, society, is there really a need for the Kirpan anymore?
    While walking down the street in TO if I see someone being mugged for
    instance, it’s my duty to try to assist them (by calling the cops) but
    not by pulling out a Kirpan. We Canadians have a judicial system that
    is fair and effective, and so the Kirpan becomes a ceremonial symbol
    here more so than anything else. As a symbol, can’t it be reduced to a
    pendant worn around someone’s neck?

    C) It’s a blade made of steel that can potentially find it’s way into
    an unscrupulous individual’s hands and used as a weapon. But then so
    can lots of other things. In Ontario, Sikhs have been allowed to wear
    their Kirpans to school since the late 80’s and since then there has
    not been a single episode of the Kirpan being used by a student
    against another student. Compare this to other potential *weapons* in
    the classroom like the ruler, which, on average, is used in 7 student
    assaults in a given year (statistic from the globeandmail.com).
    Carrying a Kirpan is an honour and privilege the Sikhs do not take
    lightly, understanding this helps to explain why we fight so strongly
    to carry one, and with the same ferociousness, would penalize someone
    for using it irresponsibly.

    I can appreciate the concern many parents may have for their
    children’s well being, but will banning the Kirpan really make the
    schools safer? I don’t think so (refer to my ruler example)

    Does it add an unnecessary element to student life that has the
    potential to do harm? Well, if a student is intent on hurting someone
    with a weapon, they have a number of different options at their
    fingertips that are already in a school environment. Since a Kirpan is
    no sharper than a butter knife, should we ban all butter knifes from
    school kitchens? A Sikh carrying a Kirpan has taken an oath to God
    that they will use their Kirpan for good, not evil, and the strength
    of this oath is not one we should lightly overlook.
    ——————

  2. Jay Singh — on 4th March, 2006 at 12:14 am  

    Twelve is young for a boy to baptised into Khalsa.

    Sikhs should take trouble to explain what the kirpan represents and not flinch from allaying fears that people have over it. It is Sikhs responsibility to do this and not sit back and take goodwill for granted.

  3. Ananthan — on 4th March, 2006 at 12:15 am  

    ” this ruling is likely to spark a debate about religious symbols in classrooms”

    I don’t understand why it would. In the Globe & Mail article one parent says “We’ve taken down all the crucifixes in our schools … We got rid of one religion. We’re not about to let another one come in.”

    But he’s making a false analogy, people are still allowed to wear crosses as jewelry anywhere they like.
    When I was in school (In Canada but not Quebec) most sikh guys had a kirpan but they were generally about 2 or 3 inches long at most and dulled - about as harmful as a ballpoint pen. As long as length is controlled (which the ruling allows for) its as harmless as a cross.

    This debate is more about accepting new religions and their practices than any struggle with religion in the classroom.

  4. Jay Singh — on 4th March, 2006 at 12:19 am  

    Yes, that is right. Kirpans are not sharpened. They are blunted and ceremonial symbols. My grandfathers kirpan is about three inches long and blunt, soft. He wears it underneath his clothes.

  5. Jay Singh — on 4th March, 2006 at 12:26 am  

    Ananthan

    Were most Sikh guys at your school really Amritdhari? Here in the UK baptised Sikhs are a minority, and there are not that many of school age, although there are a number. Most Sikh school kids are not baptised in England. Personally I think it is too young. But that is just my opinion.

  6. Ananthan — on 4th March, 2006 at 1:39 am  

    Sorry Jay, my post sort of put my ignorance of sikhs on display. Back then I was oblivious to the differences between north indians and always assumed sikhs were the ones wearing turbans and everyone else was from somewhere else. Obviously i’m more knowledgable now but i still lapse at times. When I said most sikhs i meant the ones wearing turbans, which i assume is a signifier that they were orthodox?

    I don’t know what Amritdhari means but most of the sikh guys i come across now don’t wear a kirpan/turban.

  7. Sunny — on 4th March, 2006 at 2:07 am  

    Hmmm. On one hand blunting the kirpan reduces it to ceremonial status, in which case what’s the use? I approach this from a theological point of view.

    I remember walking around Nanded (Maharashtra) at the Hazoor Sahib Gurudwara and seeing loads of Nihangs with massive swords, sometimes two swords. It’s too bad you don’t really see that here.

    Ananthan - btw, there was a case here when a girl was asked to get rid of the cross as a piece of jewellry, and the girl’s mum said that if Sikhs were allowed religious symbols, why weren’t Christians? Hmmmm….

  8. Bikhair — on 4th March, 2006 at 3:32 am  

    Pickled Pimples,

    This isnt a joke, but my husband was stabbed by a Sikh when he was a teenager. I am not saying they go around stabbing folks but I thought that would be an interesting story to tell. He still has the scare too. Kinda funny now that I think about it.

  9. _Zain_ — on 4th March, 2006 at 4:31 am  

    Well it had me in stitches…a bit like your husband.

    “Since a Kirpan is no sharper than a butter knife, should we ban all butter knifes from school kitchens?”

    Hardly a balance to the argument methinks.
    It’s a damned sight more threatening than an old butter knife.

    ” A Sikh carrying a Kirpan has taken an oath to God
    that they will use their Kirpan for good, not evil”

    And in an ideal world, a muslim carrying a dodgy rucksack has also taken an oath not to blow the tits off of his neighbour.
    It requires everyone to be pious to the max.

    Even if the length is regulated and the blade is dulled, other students may take exception.

    I suppose it all boils down to just one negative incident for the whole thing to blow up.

    I wonder how forgiving people would be, if muslims carried a blade by religion. Just a thought.

  10. Kiran — on 4th March, 2006 at 10:59 am  

    “I wonder how forgiving people would be, if muslims carried a blade by religion. Just a thought.” they wouldn’t be forgiving at all and thats coz of what has happened in the world with the 9/11, london bombings and bombings in other countires like Kenya and Tnazania. Coz of one man’s doing the whole Muslim community is affected.

    In Canada it is accepted that sikhs can wear a kirpan in schools and not here in the Uk is because they don’t have this conflict of races to the extrme that Britian has. The only reason other parents bring up the issue about not have a certain religious symbol is because they don’t want another minor religion to take over a dominant religion.

    “It’s a damned sight more threatening than an old butter knife”
    it might look scary but a sikh carrying a kirpan knows when he will use it and that is to protect the helpless.

  11. _Zain_ — on 4th March, 2006 at 1:15 pm  

    “a sikh carrying a kirpan knows when he will use it and that is to protect the helpless.”

    Not meaning to kill the pious image, but I know plenty of Sikh brothers in East London that aren’t part of that Superhero soundbite and still carry it.

    You know, a Cop carries a gun to uphold the law etc blah, but it still doesn’t stop the odd one from getting trigger happy.
    No folks, I’m not comparing Sikh’s to Cops.
    It’s an analogy, but alas in this hyper pc state, people will jump at the slightest noise.

  12. grumpy — on 4th March, 2006 at 1:56 pm  

    “…they wouldn’t be forgiving at all and thats coz of what has happened in the world with the 9/11, london bombings and bombings in other countires like Kenya and Tnazania. Coz of one man’s doing the whole Muslim community is affected”.

    There have been terrorists of many different religions over the years, not just muslims – sick of hearing the same old – “but they bombed here, there and everywhere, so its’s understandable that people are scared of them” excuse given for people’s predjudices and hatred.

    Every religion has it’s bad apples/people who completely misunderstand the meaning of their faith including Sikhism Islam among many others. This whole “…but they would only use the kirpan for good…” etc etc, how do you know?.

    I guess what I am saying is that it’s not wise to make a blanket statement about all sikhs the same way it ’s equally unwise to make blanket statements about all muslims – positive or negative.

  13. IFI ALI — on 4th March, 2006 at 3:17 pm  

    wow, big deal

  14. Kiran — on 4th March, 2006 at 3:43 pm  

    Yes there are other terroists out there apart from muslims and my point was that if muslims were allowed to carry a weapon similar to a kirpan it will not go well with alot of people, coz of what they think and what they feel.

    And yes alot of sikhs take advantage of carrying a kirpan and use it for wrong reasons and I will say that they are not true amritharis coz that is not what they are meant to do.

    Let’s face it you will get the good and the bad in the same basket and with the world today anything is possible!!

  15. Al_Mujahid_for_debauchery — on 4th March, 2006 at 4:33 pm  

    I havnt read the whole opinion but this is a very interesting case.
    I do take issue with the Court characterization of Kirpan being as dangerous as a baseball bat or scissors.
    The primary purpose of a ‘baseball bat’ is not to attack other people but to play baseball. Kirpans usage is inherently violent albeit for defensive/deterrent purposes.
    So a Kirpan cannot be compared to scissors. The test in my opinion is not how ‘dangerous’ the object is but how what is the primary usage for a proscribed object.
    A table lamp can be used to kill a person, that doesnt mean that a table lamp is comparable to a gun.
    Kirpan is a weapon and the school is well within its right to ban all weapons.
    However I do agree with the Court’s reasoning that not all kirpans should be banned period. For example, we allow guns in a gun safety class or a target practice class. We allow swords in a fencing practice class. So the school ban on all Kirpans was certainly overbroad as it had no exceptions.
    I havnt read the opinion, but I hope the Court came up with a solution where Kirpans cannot be banned outright, but would allow for common sense restrictions on the usage/type of Kirpan as in size, bluntness, display and so on.

  16. Don — on 4th March, 2006 at 5:13 pm  

    At he school where I teach we have about twenty Sikh lads. They all wear small symbolic kirans. i don’t think there’s even a rule, people have just applied common sense. But a twenty centimetre blade? That’s not a symbol, it’s a shiv. Who the hell sends a twelve year old to school with a twenty centimetre blade, however pretty?

    Regardless of the religious and ethical symbolism of the item, he’s a twelve year old kid. If this became a trend, we could conceivably be looking at schools with a couple of hundred teenage boys carrying (as Sunny wistfully envisaged) ‘ massive swords, sometimes two swords. It’s too bad you don’t really see that here.’

    Try doing yard-duty .

    By the way, can someone enlighten me on this ‘required by my religion’ stuff. I mean, in general. What happens if you don’t get to do it? Is some deity going to get pissed off at you? Do you accrue penalty points in the after-life? Is it worse than detention?

  17. mirax — on 4th March, 2006 at 5:25 pm  

    This kirpan- is my understanding correct that only the men/boys carry it, rather than the women/girls? A bit of machismo swagger, eh? Just what we need in schools!

    Regardless of why Sikhs carry a blade (all the historical & theological reasons) and however well-intentioned the carrier may be (yes we all have to accept that on faith too, hmmn?), I have very deep reservations about schools - secular, public schools- allowing boys to carry a weapon which is first and foremost what a kirpan is. No matter its size or bluntness.

    So if I belong to a weird religion that mandates that my kid carries a gun as a mark of identity, it is okay to send him to school with one? Ok I exaggerate, say, I am, oh so responsible and compromise, letting my kid carry a miniature gun ?
    As long as there are enough of us gun-fetish religionists around to make some noise about it and get our way, assuring all of our noble,peaceful intentions,it’s ok?

    It is someone’s religious identity, so the rest of us have to pussyfoot around it?

  18. Jay Singh — on 4th March, 2006 at 5:48 pm  

    All baptised Sikhs regardless of their gender carry the kirpan.

    No mirax, you don’t have to pussyfoot around anything, dont add to your persecuted squeal - you can say what you like, dont be shy!

  19. El Cid — on 4th March, 2006 at 6:16 pm  

    Anyone who has read my posts before knows I am a proud product of melting pot society. It is from this perspective that I say this ruling is fucking ridiculous.
    Maybe they should remake Scum and make the anti-hero a Sikh.
    “Where’s your tool?”
    “What tool?”
    “This fucking tool”
    I’m afraid this is where the multicultural model gets silly and where it really is “political correctness gone mad” — it really is
    The law of the land and the well being of our children overrides any cultural/religious sympathies as far as I’m concerned. This ain’t comparable to a Sikh copper’s right to wear a turban rather than a helmet, etc, which is reasonable. This is about recognising that we live in a violent society and that violence is commonplace in the playground, classroom, at the school gates, in youth culture and is an ever-present threat for kids.
    Sure, you don’t need a knife to hurt someone. You can do a lot of damage with a pen. I remember someone got stabbed through the cheek at my junior school, and that was a decade before Joe Pesci demonstrated the art in Goodfellahs.
    But that ain’t the point — It’s a fucking knife. Any attempt to suggest that somehow Sikhs are above misusing it for religious reasons just doesn’t wash. I dunno about other posters but when I here that argument I get a faint echo of the NRA’s “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”
    The kirpan is a symbol and should be worn on a chain, like a cross, lunar crescent or Star of David.

  20. El Cid — on 4th March, 2006 at 6:22 pm  

    P.S. How comes this hasn’t been picked up?

  21. Sunny — on 4th March, 2006 at 6:28 pm  

    El Cid - because apart from some on the right, most people have given up caring what Trevor Phillips says. Certainly, I have.

  22. Jai — on 4th March, 2006 at 6:48 pm  

    Don,

    I am going to answer your queries in a Sikh context, as different religions have different viewpoints of the ramifications of not adhering to certain “mandatory” aspects of the respective faiths.

    =>”By the way, can someone enlighten me on this ‘required by my religion’ stuff. I mean, in general.”

    The so-called “5Ks” are a mandatory part of the Sikh “uniform” for baptised Sikhs, known as Amritdharis. Such individuals have undertaken a vow before God and a solemn commitment to live by the tenets & practices involved in core Sikhism, along with certain stricter behavioural disciplines which becoming Amritdhari involves. It’s basically like joining an order of knights (to give an analogy).

    =>”What happens if you don’t get to do it?”

    It depends on the context and your specific motivations for not adhering to the required practice.

    =>”Is some deity going to get pissed off at you?”

    From a Sikh theological perspective, God never gets “pissed off” at anyone. Sikh tenets define God as being without anger, hatred, or vengeance.

    =>” Do you accrue penalty points in the after-life?”

    There are no “penalty points” or “bonus points” in Sikhism. The long-term impact of one’s actions depends on the specific context and the internal motivations one may have, and — most importantly — the subsequent impact on one’s soul. Another core Sikh principle is basically “You reap what you sow”.

    Mirax,

    =>”This kirpan- is my understanding correct that only the men/boys carry it, rather than the women/girls?”

    No, I’m afraid your understanding is wrong. Female Sikhs also carry it, but it is only a mandatory part of the Sikh/Khalsa “uniform” for baptised/Amritdhari Sikhs, both men and women equally.

  23. mirax — on 4th March, 2006 at 8:01 pm  

    >No, I’m afraid your understanding is wrong. Female Sikhs also carry it, but it is only a mandatory part of the Sikh/Khalsa “uniform” for baptised/Amritdhari Sikhs, both men and women equally.>

    Fair enough Jai. I gained a different umpression that traditionally and historically it was the men who primarily wore the kirpan.That the kirpan was a natural symbol of a martial religion that sought to hold at bay the mughal tyrants.

    ie passages like this : Though the sword was the natural adornment of the soldier, Guru Gobind, in designating the kirpan as one of the five distinctive symbols of the Khalsa, was clearly intending to convey that the men of the Khalsa would be much like soldiers in displaying bravery and fearlessness, but as their sword was to be the sword of baptism, they were also to exercise restraint. It is with the sword that the Guru baptised the first five men initiated into the Khalsa [see Panj Pyare].
    http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/southasia/Religions/paths/Kirpan.html

  24. mirax — on 4th March, 2006 at 8:08 pm  

    At this website,http://allaboutsikhs.com/way/amrit.htm
    I found out a bit more about Sikh baptism .

    C. One of the Khalsa then instructs the aspirants in the following way: After taking Amrit you must:
    1. Believe in the teaching of the ten Sikh Gurus and Guru Granth Sahib.
    2. Recite five Banis-(Collection of Hymns) every day.
    3. Wear the five Ks-i.e., uncut hair, sword, comb, underwear and the steel bracelet
    4. Live upon your own honest and sincere earnings.
    5. Treat all human beings as equal.
    6. Spread the name of the God.

    After taking Amrit you must not:

    1. Deal with persons who have no belief in God
    2. Take drugs, intoxicants and tobacco in any form
    3. Have any faith in magic, superstitions, charms and rituals
    4. Have any relations with mines (descendants of Prithi Chand, a brother of Guru Aijan who revolted against his father, Guru Ramdas, to have the Guruship for himself) Dhirmaliaa (descendants of Dhirmal, a grandson of Guru)

    Not deal with an atheist when you become an amritdhari? Will we have schoolkids who will refuse instruction by atheist teachers next?

  25. Sunny — on 4th March, 2006 at 9:30 pm  

    Bizarre… I didn’t even know about some of these rules for Amritdharis. Specially not the bit about not dealing with people who don’t believe in god.

  26. Ananthan — on 4th March, 2006 at 9:55 pm  

    El Cid said “This is about recognising that we live in a violent society and that violence is commonplace in the playground, classroom, at the school gates, in youth culture and is an ever-present threat for kids.”

    I think that’s a bit of hyperbole isn’t it? We have crime but I don’t consider Canada to be a violent society. Attacks with weapons in schools aren’t common and i’ve never heard of a kirpan being used in an attack (not discounting the possibility, just haven’t heard of any instances.)

    “But that ain’t the point — It’s a fucking knife.”

    That’s misleading, the ruling allows for limitations on its characteristics. It’s effectively just a symbolic knife. Maybe the symbolism offends you?

    “Any attempt to suggest that somehow Sikhs are above misusing it for religious reasons just doesn’t wash.”

    That’s moot, since it isn’t an effective weapon short and dulled, and like I said, are there any examples of it being used as a weapon by students? Humouring you, if someone is mad enough to stab someone with something and they lacked the short dulled kirpan, couldn’t they reach for any number of other potential weapons? Ban compasses!

    “The kirpan is a symbol and should be worn on a chain, like a cross, lunar crescent or Star of David.”

    Maybe it would allay some fears, but I see it as acquiescing to ignorance.

  27. Jai — on 4th March, 2006 at 11:47 pm  

    Mirax,

    =>”gained a different umpression that traditionally and historically it was the men who primarily wore the kirpan.”

    Men wearing swords or other weapons was common in some quarters right across the board (ie. w.r.t people from multiple religious & geographic backgrounds) during pre-British times in the Indian subcontinent. In terms of the Sikh community specifically, it was probably to do with the fact that the men were more usually involved in any warfare, although there is no religious restriction on Sikh women also being armed, and in fact there are historical precedents of female Sikh generals leading their armies into battle. In either case, wearing a sword is definitely not meant to be undertaken as some kind of macho posturing or in order to “show off”.

    If you go to any modern-day Sikh gatherings you’ll see some women wearing the kirpan too, especially amongst the older generation(s). If you’ve seen the film “Anita & Me” (based on Meera Syal’s novel), the young heroine’s grandmother is shown to carry the weapon. A Sikh does not have to be Amritdhari in order to carry a kirpan, but this tends to be the case these days, and if you see a Sikh (either male or female) wearing it you can pretty much assume that he/she is a baptised individual.

    =>”That the kirpan was a natural symbol of a martial religion that sought to hold at bay the mughal tyrants.”

    Guru Gobind Singh encouraging all Sikhs to be armed was a necessity of the times considering that they were on the receiving end of a genocidal campaign in that era, and indeed continued to be targets during the century afterwards until Maharajah Ranjit Singh established his empire.

    However, this was not just something aimed at the Mughals (and their immediate successors in the region). As has been mentioned before, the kirpan stands for the right of every Sikh, and indeed every human being regardless of their background, to defend themselves against unwarranted attacks & persecution, and to defend others who may not have the capacity to defend themselves. We are lucky to be living in an era and in countries where the rule of law is generally strong enough for people to not have to worry about such matters in their daily lives. This has not always been the case in human history and, since world events sometimes have a tendency to take unexpected turns, this may not necessarily be the case in the future either.

    Also, technically Sikhism is not a ‘martial religion’ — it is very much about peace, compassion and tolerant co-existence. However, the right to use force is sanctioned when every other method has been exhausted, and even then only in highly extenuating circumstances. One certainly isn’t supposed to resort to violence in order to intimidate others, to defend one’s bruised ego in response to any perceived insults, for revenge, or to impose one’s beliefs (religious or otherwise) on others, for example. The ‘knight’ example I mentioned earlier is very apt — the entire Khalsa ethos is very chivalric and idealistic in nature.

    With regards to your other point about Sikh baptism:

    =>”After taking Amrit you must not:

    1. Deal with persons who have no belief in God”

    …..I’ve never heard of this one either. However, the other points listed are valid.

    You can read further information on the Amrit ceremony, along with who participates in it and what is expected from them, on www.Sikhnet.com and www.Sikhs.org.

    Both of the above are excellent sources of information about Sikhs and Sikhism, and I would suggest that you use them as your primary points of reference for anything Sikhism-related you’re interested in finding out about.

  28. El Cid — on 5th March, 2006 at 9:28 am  

    Ananthan,
    I know nothing about the world you live in, but I know plent about the UK. Believe me, there is a major undercurrent of social violence, especially youth-on-youth violence.
    You should ask also yourself: how representative are your experinces with that of wider canadian society, not least in the big cities?

  29. El Cid — on 5th March, 2006 at 9:30 am  

    Sunny,
    Do you think Sir Trevor P has big political ambitions?

  30. Jay Singh — on 5th March, 2006 at 10:16 am  

    El Cid

    I think Phillips has big time political ambitions! But where do you think he might be aiming for?

  31. El Cid — on 5th March, 2006 at 10:18 am  

    Maybe the symbolism offends you?
    Ananthan, you’re poor debater. Go back to school with your cliched two-bob herd-like arguments and your Pavlovian defence mechanisms. Try coming out with something fresh rather than repeating arguments you’ve heard again and again.

  32. El Cid — on 5th March, 2006 at 10:20 am  

    Mayor of London, no Cabinet

  33. El Cid — on 5th March, 2006 at 10:21 am  

    The first black PM — who knows where his ego will take him. Needs to become an MP first tho. But I’m sure that’s not far away

  34. Jay Singh — on 5th March, 2006 at 10:21 am  

    El Cid

    If the kirpan is blunt, small, concealed and sheathed by lock, it is a symbol, what is the problem?

  35. j0nz — on 5th March, 2006 at 10:47 am  

    Damn! Didn’t know Sikhs were supposed to carry swords. Those crazy mofos!

    El-Cid, I think Sir Trevor Phillips talks a lot of sense. Sunny / other liberal lefties probably thinks he’s a racist ;)

  36. j0nz — on 5th March, 2006 at 10:52 am  

    Sir Trev would make a great Prime Minister!

  37. mirax — on 5th March, 2006 at 11:28 am  

    >>..Maybe the symbolism offends you?

    Yes, it does. It epitomises violence as a viable recourse to conflict - no matter that it has been dressed up as chivalric,justice on behalf of oppression and so on.

  38. Don — on 5th March, 2006 at 12:31 pm  

    As there seems to be no strict rule on the size of the kirpan, and how it is carried, and as it appears to be acceptable for it to be a couple of inches long and in a cloth bag under the clothing, why wasn’t this compromise made?

    By the way, what is the situation re. air travel? I’ve briefly looked on the net but there seems to be some confusion. Some suggest a ‘travel’ kipan of a couple of inches is acceptable, others say it has to be checked in.

  39. Jay Singh — on 5th March, 2006 at 12:42 pm  

    Don

    Most people do. It is my understanding that the kid was ready to accept restrictions but the school took an absolute line and did not give him the option. Hence it was taken to the High Court. As far as I know it has to be checked in on flights.

  40. Sunny — on 5th March, 2006 at 1:15 pm  

    Do you think Sir Trevor P has big political ambitions?

    Yes he definitely does. I don’t think he’s racist, I just know that generally people have stopped taking him seriously.. the CRE has become a joke.

  41. Jay Singh — on 5th March, 2006 at 1:17 pm  

    Sunny

    He is definitely not racist, it is just ridiculous to suggest so (I dont mean you, but whoever did suggest that). But why have some people stopped taking the CRE seriously? Would you say it is because of the public statements he has made? Or just because it has outlived its use?

  42. Jai — on 5th March, 2006 at 1:18 pm  

    Mirax,

    =>”Yes, it does. It epitomises violence as a viable recourse to conflict - no matter that it has been dressed up as chivalric,justice on behalf of oppression and so on.”

    Let me give you an example to really bring the message home regarding what the Sikh concept of the aforementioned points is really all about.

    Supposing you were walking home from work one evening, on your own, and somebody attacked you with the intention of raping you. If the only way a passing Sikh — indeed, any passing individual — could prevent the attacker from succeeding would be to physically incapacitate them in order to rescue you, then I think you would agree that that would be a reasonable context for the use of force. Unless you think that the more ethical option would be for bystanders to just hang around, waiting for the police to come (which could take a while), while the rapist finishes his sexual assualt and then runs away because nobody should physically restrain him either.

    It is not violence in itself which is inherently immoral, but the context in which it is used, the extent to which it is deployed, and the motivations for the person using it. Otherwise you might as well suggest disbanding every nation’s military forces (which prevent foreign invasion). It’s worth bearing in mind that if people really had implemented this line of thought, there really would be no Jewish people left in the world, we’d all be speaking German, Japanese, Russian, or (considering certain other present-day global events) Arabic. Think it over. Hell, taking it further back, Aurangzeb’s capaign of forced conversion to Islam really would have succeeded throughout the Indian subcontinent and there would be no Hindus, Sikhs, or other non-Muslim groups left there either. Including me and you.

    You may not agree with this, but the Sikh philosophy on the matter is that passively submitting to unjustified aggression and tyranny, or passively refusing to intervene if a third-party is being unjustifiably attacked and you theoretically have the power to assist/rescue them, is as bad as inflicting that kind of aggression on someone yourself.

    Remember also what I said earlier about how the use of violence is only supposed to be an extreme last-resort, and only in a highly-limited number of specific circumstances. This is an absolutely critical point to bear in mind.

    To make the matter clearer, let me mention something about the Sikh ideal of the “sant-sipahi”, ie. the “saint-soldier”. As the name indicates, the ’saint’ part comes first and foremost. Guru Gobind Singh made a very good point about how one should attempt to be a saint first before one tries to become a soldier. It’s to prevent people from turning into psychopathic thugs who resort to violence at the drop of a hat, or who use it in inappropriate circumstances.

    The Guru also said that anyone who wanted to understand his message should refer to the scriptures of the Guru Granth Sahib. It’s not exactly a warlike text, if that’s what you’re assuming. You will not find any verses there exhorting ‘holy war’ or ‘death to the infidels. In fact, if one really wants to understand Sikh teachings, one is supposed to listen to it in musical “kirtan” form. If you have any familiarity with it, you’ll know that it’s not exactly the kind of music which inflames its listeners and turns them into violent thugs (the opposite, in fact).

    Anyway, the world is still a highly-dangerous place in many ways, we don’t know what the future holds for the human race, and — looking further ahead — the universe is an extremely large place and none of us knows exactly what awaits us “out there”. Regarding physical force as an unacceptable solution no matter what the situation is not only highly irresponsible, it is also potentially suicidal.

    Unless you think that “passive, non-violent resistance” would have succeeded against the Mughals or the Nazis or, indeed, would cut any ice with OBL and his fellow jihadists at all, in which case we really are on completely different pages on this issue.

  43. Jay Singh — on 5th March, 2006 at 1:21 pm  

    Dont bother with the long posts Jai she’s not interested.

    The Sikh historical inheritance is a bloody and violent one and the kirpan symbol is a remnant of that. Now it is a symbol Sikhs should treat it as such and compromise to ensure that it is worn in a benign manner. 99% already do that but it does not satisfy all, so go the extra step and ensure it is so. That is the duty of amritdhari Sikhs.

  44. Sid D H Arthur — on 5th March, 2006 at 3:27 pm  

    I’m all for the retainment of symbols that are sacrosanct in the major Traditions. The kind of thing that Secular Fundamentalists and their vanilla-fication of religious expression would have people do, which is nothing more than a call for the homogenisation of the religions and to force adherents to be watered-down New-Ageists with a conformist outlook on spirituality. A symbol is a symbol and have a valid and essential function.

    Please note, young Skih men are going to be warrior-like with or without allowing them to carry blunted knife-like objects in crushed-velvet sacks.

  45. Ananthan — on 5th March, 2006 at 4:21 pm  

    El Cid said
    “I know nothing about the world you live in, but I know plent about the UK. Believe me, there is a major undercurrent of social violence, especially youth-on-youth violence.
    You should ask also yourself: how representative are your experinces with that of wider canadian society, not least in the big cities?”

    I’m not sure why you’re making the connection between the kirpan and youth violence. Like I said, there are any number of much more dangerous potential weapons around than a 3 inch dulled kirpan in a sheath worn under the clothes. It’s lost its effectiveness as a weapon, the supreme court decision allows for these conditions to be set, why are you still considering it something more than a harmless symbol?

    And I went to school in the city and suburbs of Toronto, if the kirpan issue is relevant anywhere it’s relevant there.

  46. Sunny — on 5th March, 2006 at 4:39 pm  

    But why have some people stopped taking the CRE seriously?

    Plenty of reasons. Firstly the CRE is meant to be merely a body to propose and implement race legislation, not make silly remarks like ‘Britain is becoming more segregated’ (later proved to be false) or that ‘Big Brother is bringing us all closer together’. TP just makes headline grabbing statements that have little inherent value, or lead to any change.
    Even the government has stopped listening to it… hence the move towards the CEHR. He has little credibility amongst charities or social organisations that work with ethnic minorities.

    It has its own use as a legal body, but TP is using it as a personal vehicle, that’s the problem. I’ll write more about this later…

  47. Jay Singh — on 5th March, 2006 at 4:41 pm  

    I think that there is a consensus here, and among the Sikh community, that when a kirpan is worn in school by a baptised Sikh it should be subject to strict restrictions to ensure that it is nothing else than a symbol and remains so. In such circumstances raising the spectre of children going to schools with machetes is off target.

  48. Jay Singh — on 5th March, 2006 at 4:44 pm  

    Sunny

    I look forward to reading your article on the subject. In your experience at the grass roots, is this a consensus amongst say the African Caribbean community as well as amongst some Asians?

  49. lund-admin — on 5th March, 2006 at 5:51 pm  

    I thought you might be interested in our fight against the ruthless Quebecois persecutionists.

  50. lund-admin — on 5th March, 2006 at 5:55 pm  

    Sorry, the link to our protest is http://touchedbythelund.blogspot.com

  51. El Cid — on 5th March, 2006 at 6:52 pm  

    Jay,
    You are very adept at disarming me. ;)

  52. Al-Hack — on 5th March, 2006 at 6:55 pm  

    Hehehe - nice one lund man

  53. mirax — on 9th March, 2006 at 8:48 am  

    Dont bother with the long posts Jai she’s not interested.

    Jay, stop being so fucking presumptuous! Grow out of the playground bully mentality cause you are getting tedious,boy.

    Re the lundies, great satire- if you get it. Sorry to be blunt but some here are so firmly stuck in the ‘identity’ rut that they may not.

  54. krist — on 27th March, 2006 at 10:37 am  

    oh come on my hands are far more dangerous then a kirpan, 7 years of martial arts. trust this, i can cause more damage alot faster with my feet. imagine a almost 300 lbs man using his fists and feet compared to a 3-9 inch knife? i highly doubt the average sikh can use a kirpan the way i can my own hands and feet. i also figure that a sikh witha real sword would have a heck of a time using a sword or a kirpan when he is on the ground instantly from my assults. gee… unless were dealing with a few dozen canabus and opium eating sikhs of old..

  55. krist — on 27th March, 2006 at 10:38 am  

    no offence to fellow sikhs just facts.

  56. Anand — on 27th March, 2006 at 11:13 am  

    That’s why it is just a symbol krist

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