Sikh banned from wearing kirpan in Denmark


by Sunny
25th October, 2006 at 2:03 pm    

From Sikhnet:

A Danish court ruled Tuesday that it was illegal for a Sikh man to carry the “kirpan” ceremonial knife that he traditionally gets at baptism. The Eastern High Court said that although Indian national Ripudaman Singh wore the blunt knife as a “religious symbol,” it was still a violation of a ban on bearing weapons, including knives, except for carrying out a trade, hunting, fishing or other recreational activities.

The ceremonial knife that Ripudaman Singh carried concealed under his clothes was detected two years ago when he visited the US embassy in Copenhagen and presented it at a security check.

Uh oh. This is going to pose a big problem for Sikhs, since it’s central for baptised (or Amritdhari) Sikhs to carry the knife/sword as part of the 5 Ks. I hope other European nations don’t follow suit.
[hat tip: Uncleji]


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  1. Leon — on 25th October, 2006 at 2:18 pm  

    This will be interesting (assuming this gains traction), knives longer than 3 inches are banned in this country already (well they were when I last checked). You can have some confiscated if they are etc.

    There already is a knife problem in this country, banning some and allowing others on “religious” grounds wont go down to well I should think…

  2. Jagdeep — on 25th October, 2006 at 2:19 pm  

    They can appeal – but this is going to happen more and more in the current mood. Where they can amritdharis should compromise on size for example, it is regulated how they can be worn and that is only right and fair.

  3. Anas — on 25th October, 2006 at 2:20 pm  

    Do religious Sikhs get a special dispensation for carrying these knives in airports?

  4. Anas — on 25th October, 2006 at 2:25 pm  

    through airports, I mean

  5. Electro — on 25th October, 2006 at 2:39 pm  

    We’ve already had this debate here in Canada. That was about ten years ago. The Kirpan was permitted and since then there hasn’t been a single incident. That’s simple fact provides overwhelming proof of just how well young Sikh males are taught discipline as well as respect for the “other”.

    Especially so, considering the amount of teasing they can sometimes get.

  6. Leon — on 25th October, 2006 at 2:39 pm  

    Do they have to be over three inches or is that flexible?

  7. Jagdeep — on 25th October, 2006 at 2:42 pm  

    Electro – those who wear a kirpan have a responsibility to wear it responsibly. In todays atmosphere the issue should be resolved either way definitively including issues of size. There has to be compromise if nessecary.

  8. Jagdeep — on 25th October, 2006 at 2:58 pm  

    I’m offline for a couple of weeks folks – travelling with work and on my way home to pack now – catch y’all later! Don’t start any holy wars or race riots in my absence!

  9. Leon — on 25th October, 2006 at 3:02 pm  

    Take care dude, see ya soon.

  10. Anas — on 25th October, 2006 at 3:08 pm  

    Isn’t there danger of Islamic terrorists dressing up as Sikhs and carrying false IDs?

    Wish you a happy journey, Jagdeep.

  11. Leon — on 25th October, 2006 at 3:14 pm  

    Isn’t there danger of Islamic terrorists dressing up as Sikhs and carrying false IDs?

    Under their Niqabs you mean?;)

  12. Don — on 25th October, 2006 at 3:37 pm  

    Three inches is the maximum legal size in the UK, for carrying in public. The one in the Danish case was over 7 inches.

    These days I expect it would have to be surrendered for air travel, but I gather that situation is catered for within sikhism. I’m sure Jai can fill us in on the details. Is there a minimum acceptable size?

  13. Anas — on 25th October, 2006 at 3:46 pm  

    Three inches is the maximum legal size in the UK, for carrying in public. The one in the Danish case was over 7 inches

    We’re still talking about knives, right?

  14. Don — on 25th October, 2006 at 4:04 pm  

    Well, I guess someone had to say it.

  15. Kulvinder — on 25th October, 2006 at 4:08 pm  

    I thought britain was the only country that had idiotic laws on personal protection?! Im not sure but iirc they can have the knife permanently sealed into the scabbard or in the uk just wear a smaller knife.

    Anyhoo in any right minded society we’d be allowed to carry guns with us, and frankly i hope the US keep their right to bear arms. Anti-personal protection laws encourage a statist dependance on the police.

  16. genghis — on 25th October, 2006 at 4:10 pm  

    Kully,

    Er weapon carrying mean hight murder rates…as shown by figures in the US.

  17. Don — on 25th October, 2006 at 4:14 pm  

    ‘in any right minded society we’d be allowed to carry guns’

    Just guns? I’m in the market for yellow cake uranium before that bastard at number 17 gets there first. What are you, some kind of commie?

  18. James — on 25th October, 2006 at 4:15 pm  

    When you migrate to another country, learn to follow its rules.

    Nuff said.

  19. Jai — on 25th October, 2006 at 4:20 pm  

    Don,

    =>”I’m sure Jai can fill us in on the details. Is there a minimum acceptable size?”

    Technically the kirpan is supposed to be a full-length sword. Anything less than that is a compromise as per the legal dictates of the wider society one may live in.

    The kirpan does have certain symbolic qualities, but making it into an ineffectual “purely symbolic” item (either by making it ridiculously small, or sealing the scabbard, or even just wearing a tiny kirpan-shaped pendant around one’s neck) defeats the original purpose. It’s supposed to be a weapon, analogous (in some aspects) to a samurai constantly carrying a katana or a medieval European knight and his sword.

    However, it’s worth bearing in mind that Sikhs are not supposed to be excessively bloody-minded about these kinds of things; constantly carrying a weapon is not necessary in a democratic society where the rule of law is present and fair-minded, so wearing a small “dagger-sized” kirpan is an acceptable alternative to the full-length sword that it’s actually supposed to be.

    *************************************

    Jagdeep — Have a safe trip, mate.

  20. Kulvinder — on 25th October, 2006 at 4:20 pm  

    Just guns? I’m in the market for yellow cake uranium before that bastard at number 17 gets there first. What are you, some kind of commie?

    If you wanted to, sure why not? Society is a group of individuals that get together and decide to live under a similar set of laws (or it should be). I don’t see why one society should be allowed to have nuclear weapons and another should be discouraged from doing so. If you wanted to make a nuclear bomb of your very own i wouldn’t stop you, though it would be incredibly expensive. So if you and 30million friends decided to share the cost i wouldn’t object.

  21. Anas — on 25th October, 2006 at 4:31 pm  

    When you migrate to another country, follow its laws. If it’s a free secular democracy you can do what you like within the framework of the law.

  22. Jai — on 25th October, 2006 at 4:31 pm  

    Don,

    =>”I’m sure Jai can fill us in on the details. Is there a minimum acceptable size?”

    Technically the kirpan is supposed to be a full-length sword. Anything less than that is a compromise as per the legal dictates of the wider society one may currently live in.

    The kirpan does have certain symbolic qualities, but making it into an ineffectual “purely symbolic” item (either by making it ridiculously small, or sealing the scabbard, or even just wearing a tiny kirpan-shaped pendant around one’s neck) defeats the original purpose. It’s supposed to be a weapon, analogous (in some aspects) to a samurai constantly carrying a katana or a medieval European knight and his sword.

    However, it’s worth bearing in mind that Sikhs are not supposed to be excessively bloody-minded about these kinds of things; constantly carrying a weapon is not necessary in a democratic society where the rule of law is present and fair-minded, so wearing a small “dagger-sized” kirpan is an acceptable alternative to the full-length sword that it’s actually supposed to be.

    *************************************

    Jagdeep — Have a safe trip, mate.

  23. Yakoub/Julaybib — on 25th October, 2006 at 5:10 pm  

    I’m sure some Danes wouldn’t object to the guy carrying a cartoon of a kirpan. Providing he was white.

  24. Anas — on 25th October, 2006 at 5:14 pm  

    Lucky for Sikhs that they aren’t substantial numbers of them living in Denmark or France, otherwise they might start to feel victimised or something.

  25. Anas — on 25th October, 2006 at 5:15 pm  

    *there aren’t substantial numbers of

  26. pollu — on 25th October, 2006 at 5:19 pm  

    Sikhs are small in number in europe its the backlash against muslims that means they werent allowed to wear turbans in school in france, its all to do with backlash against muslims

  27. ZinZin — on 25th October, 2006 at 5:43 pm  

    Do you carry a kirpan at all times Sunny?

  28. pollu — on 25th October, 2006 at 5:46 pm  

    no only baptised sikhs wear a kirpan and they number probably less than ten percent of all sikhs in britain if that. it is worn sheathed and usually worn under the shirt on a band which goes around the shoulder it is a symbol. it can be worn of a size according to restrictions on size so if it says 3 or 4 inches. it shouldnt be banned outright there should be a compromise.

  29. sonia — on 25th October, 2006 at 5:50 pm  

    yeah yeah look at the state of the US with gun crime! thank goodness we don’t have the same situation here anywhere near as bad. what do you end up with – an arms proliferation race. oh that bloke’s got a gun so i’d better get a gun. on an individual level just like countries insist on bolstering up their armies cos next man’s country’s got an army too. ANd look what that leads to – near perpetual war.

    i agree its silly some countries have nuclear weapons whilst expecting others to not have any – the clearly sensible thing would be to give your own up at the same time as exhorting others to do the same.

    next thing you know local govts will be demanding armies and nuclear weapons as well. and if anyone from southwark picks a fight with someone in Lambeth – boom!

  30. Not Saussure — on 25th October, 2006 at 6:01 pm  

    The relevant law is section 139 of the

  31. Not Saussure — on 25th October, 2006 at 6:05 pm  

    Ooops. It don’t like html links, obviously. What I was trying to say is that the relevant law is section 139 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, which provides a defence of having ‘good reason or lawful authority’ for having the knife or sharply pointed instrument with you in a public place. The section goes on to spell out that good reasons include having the object for the purposes of work, for religious reasons, or as part of any national dress (so Scotsmen in full highland dress are exempt, too).

    Not sure what the position is with taking your kirpan or your sgian dubh with you on a plane, though.

  32. Anas — on 25th October, 2006 at 6:07 pm  

    so Scotsmen in full highland dress are exempt, too

    Excellent!

  33. Jai — on 25th October, 2006 at 6:29 pm  

    Don,

    =>”I’m sure Jai can fill us in on the details. Is there a minimum acceptable size?”

    Technically the kirpan is supposed to be a full-length sword. Anything less than that is a compromise as per the legal dictates of the wider society one may currently live in.

    The kirpan does have certain symbolic qualities, but making it into an ineffectual “purely symbolic” item (either by making it ridiculously small, or sealing the scabbard, or even just wearing a tiny kirpan-shaped pendant around one’s neck) defeats the original purpose. It’s supposed to be a weapon, analogous (in some aspects) to a samurai constantly carrying a katana or a medieval European knight and his sword.

    However, it’s worth bearing in mind that Sikhs are not supposed to be excessively bloody-minded about this sort of thing; constantly carrying a weapon is not necessary in a peaceful democratic society where the rule of law is present and fair-minded, so wearing a small “dagger-sized” kirpan is an acceptable alternative to the full-length sword that it’s actually supposed to be.

    *************************************

    Jagdeep — Have a safe trip, mate.

  34. Don — on 25th October, 2006 at 6:38 pm  

    According to David Milliband last year;

    ‘there is no reason that Sikh civil servants or members of the public should not wear the Kirpan in government buildings, except in places where security policy dictates otherwise and similar…’

    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/search/?s=section%3Awrans&pid=11113&pop=1&p=5

    BAA, however are clear;

    Can I carry sharp edged religious/cultural regalia/accessories (eg Kirpans, Sgian Dhub or Dirks) on my person or in my hand baggage?
    All such items are prohibited from hand luggage and from being carried on board a plane on your person. Please make sure that they are packed in your hold baggage as items confiscated at security control will not be returned to passengers.

  35. Don — on 25th October, 2006 at 6:52 pm  

    Thanks, Jai,

    Sunny, do you really think this is going to be an issue? I don’t claim expertise, but I have the impression that low-key compromise and common sense on all sides has more or less managed this over the years.

    The sgian dubh, I’m proud to say, has no ethical or spiritual dimension. It’s a chiv. Except these days 90% are plastic decorations without a blade at all.

  36. Sunny — on 25th October, 2006 at 10:45 pm  

    No I don’t carry around the kirpan, I’m not a baptised Sikh. I’ll ask my brother though if the airlines allow him to wear it.

    Jai is right in that carrying a knife instead of a full sword is a compromise anyway…. so after that size shouldn’t matter (insert pun).

    In India though you can carry around a full sword even into banks. They have special exemptions just for Sikhs.

    I’m against the banning of the kirpan completely. It is an unarguable tenet of the faith for the baptised. If the Danes can allow people to carry arms for hunting, fishing etc why not something small for religious purposes?

  37. Nav — on 25th October, 2006 at 11:37 pm  

    This actually came up in Canada again earlier this year or late last year. It was about whether the Kirpan could be worn in school. It was determined that it could be if it was small and secured underneath clothing where it couldn’t easily be removed. I think that’s fair.

    Though I have to say I agree that it shouldn’t be allowed on airplanes and in other high security areas. Religious freedom can only go so far. In most cases the government and the Sikh community seem willing to compromise, and I know of no incidents that suggest that’s not a workable model.

    On a vaguely related note: veils shouldn’t be banned either. They do ‘suck’, but banning? Come on.

  38. Clairwil — on 26th October, 2006 at 12:07 am  

    The sgian dubh, I’m proud to say, has no ethical or spiritual dimension. It’s a chiv. Except these days 90% are plastic decorations without a blade at all.

    Pah! mine is a deadly weapon. Carried solely for protection. Well you didn’t think I was going to accept being a member of the weaker sex lying down, did you?

  39. ZinZin — on 26th October, 2006 at 12:10 am  

    Clairwil

    I am more than happy to let you go on top.

  40. Clairwil — on 26th October, 2006 at 12:12 am  

    Don’t be fooled Zin Zin. I’m a butch bottom.

  41. Colin Latham — on 29th October, 2006 at 5:37 pm  

    I am of Viking descent. I demand that I be allowed to carry a double edged axe in public. Further, I demand to use it as and when necessary. I further demand to rape and pillage whenever I feel like it. I have no allegience to any one other than members of my tribe. Who do these Sihks think they are carrying around a puny little knife. We Vikings are a noble and ancient race.

  42. the indian — on 14th November, 2006 at 9:10 pm  

    hi colin I havent seen vikings for a long time, where are they? Confine yourself to the pages of history! Noble???? Ancient? Definately! Rape and pillage was a trade mark of you Vikings.

    Sikh is spelt S I K H S not sihks, you are a D I S G R A C E to you ancestors, get a life you idiot!

    SINGH IS KING

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