Kirpan ban blasted by Sikhs
Multiculturalism under threat, group argues
Last Updated: Thursday, February 10, 2011 | 10:27 PM ET
The World Sikh Organization of Canada is disappointed with the Quebec national assembly's decision to ban Sikhs from wearing a kirpan in the legislature.
Arguing that multiculturalism is under threat, Canadian Sikhs pointed out that the Supreme Court of Canada decided in 2006 that the ceremonial dagger, traditionally worn underneath the clothing, is an article of faith — not a weapon.A man displays his kirpan at the Supreme Court of Canada in 2006. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)
But the Quebec legislature disagrees, ruling on Wednesday that the religious item should be barred from its premises. That did not sit well with Navdeep Bains, a federal Liberal MP who wears his kirpan every day in the House of Commons.
"This is the worst kind of politics," Bains said, "because it's pitting one group of people against another. But I trust that the people of Quebec, and the people of Canada, will not stand for it."
The kirpan debate resurfaced in Quebec several weeks ago, when a delegation of Sikhs arrived for a hearing on a new bill dealing with the so-called reasonable accommodation of immigrants. The men were ordered to remove their kirpans before entering the building.
Among those prohibited by security staff from going inside the Quebec legislature building while wearing a kirpan was Balpreet Singh, legal counsel and acting executive director for the World Sikh Organization of Canada.
"A visceral reaction against the kirpan is being exploited to throw everything under the bus, including multiculturalism, the niqab, you name it," Singh said.
Critics of the decision said the vote has wrongly politicized a human rights issue.
Parti Québécois member Louise Beaudoin recently said, "Multiculturalism may be a Canadian value, but it is not a Quebec one."
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