Punjab Research Group

Debate about the right to carry a kirpan

Posted in Articles by Pippa on February 9, 2010

Should religion be an excuse for carrying daggers?

Sikhs should be allowed to carry ceremonial knives in schools and other public places, says Britain’s first Asian judge. But can religion ever justify loopholes in the law, asks philosopher Rebecca Roache.

The idea of children being allowed to carry knives while at school sounds like a red rag to a bull. But that is what Sir Mota Singh QC, Britain’s first Asian judge, who is now retired, says should be allowed. Not any old knife – but the ceremonial dagger known as the Kirpan.

The Kirpan is one of five “articles of faith” which also include Kesh (unshorn hair) and Kara (steel bangle) that are worn by practising Sikhs.

Read full article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8506074.stm

Mightier than the kirpanI find it hard to justify knives being allowed in schools – be they Sikh ceremonial symbols or otherwise

Hardeep Singh Kohli The Guardian, Tuesday 9 February 2010

What do you know about Sikhism? The men wear turbans. It comes from the north-west of India. It has at its heart the five “Ks”, the kesh (long hair), kara (steel bangle worn on the right hand), kaacha (undergarment), kanga (comb) and kirpan (a ceremonial dagger); all baptised Sikhs are expected to wear the five “Ks” daily. Sikhs are ­regarded as the best dancers in the world. This is all unequivocally true, especially the last part.

But I’d like to concentrate on the fact that Sikhism is the only world religion that requires devotees to carry a dagger. The function of the kirpan arose from necessity. From the end of the 16th century, as the Moghuls swept through Persia into the peace-loving hinterland of the Hindus, converting them to Islam, Sikhs became defenders of freedom, guardians of religious independence, champions of tolerance; and we were willing to lay down our lives for the cause. In that context it is easy to understand why we needed daggers, which were carried with us at all times since the threat of violence was constant.

Read full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/feb/09/dagger-dilemma-sikhism-kirpan-schools

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