An attack in Brampton, Ont., last Friday involving a kirpan has renewed discussion within the Sikh community over the right to wear the ceremonial dagger.

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An attack in Brampton, Ont., last Friday involving a kirpan has renewed discussion within the Sikh community over the right to wear the ceremonial dagger. ((Chris Wattie/Reuters))

The incident happened on April 2 outside of the Sikh Lehar Centre on Bramsteele Road, near Highway 410 and Steeles Avenue West, west of Toronto.

Manjit Mangat, 53, a prominent lawyer and president of the temple, was stabbed in the abdomen with a kirpan, resulting in a 12-centimetre wound.

Witnesses told police at least two men brandished unsheathed kirpans outside the centre, where around 150 people had gathered.

Peel police have charged Brampton’s Sukhwant Singh, 52, with attempted murder and aggravated assault. He is expected to appear in court later this week.

The incident presents the kirpan in a negative light, Amanpreet Singh Bal, regional co-ordinator of the World Sikh Organization, told CBC.

Violence with kirpan 'not normal'

"Violence with or without a kirpan is not normal in this day and age … it's contrary to Canadian values," Singh Bal said.

The four- to six-centimetre kirpan is one of the five articles of faith for baptized Sikhs. Singh Bal said it is to be worn dull and sheathed under the clothes.

Singh Bal said he fears the incident will rouse objections once again over the right to wear the religious symbol in public.  

"The concern in the community is that is it going to draw unnecessary attention and it's going to make us spend unnecessary funds and energy to educate Canadians," he said. 

"We've made so much progress and then an incident like this has happened, throwing us decades back."

The kirpan is banned in France, Denmark and some U.S. states. It is allowed in most public places throughout Canada, including schools.

The right for a student to wear a kirpan in school was upheld in 2006 after the Supreme Court of Canada struck down a Montreal school board's ban of the wearing of the ceremonial dagger in school.