Leading secularists have said an accommodation with religious groups needs to be found after a judge said Sikh children should be allowed to wear the dagger.
Leading secularists have said an accommodation with religious groups needs to be found in the light of a judge’s comments that Sikh children should be allowed to wear the Kirpan, the Sikh ceremonial dagger, to school.
Sir Mota Singh QC, Britain’s first Asian judge, in an interview with the BBC, had said that it is “not right” to prevent Sikhs wearing the Kirpan.
Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, told Left Foot Forward:
“The issue of the Kirpan is unlike those of the turban, niqab or cross. We need to work together to find an accommodation with Sikhs – one way to do this could be to insist the Kirpan is glued inside its sheath so it cannot be used to cause harm.
“This issue is of paramount importance, no one should be allowed to carry weapons into schools. In our society now you cannot carry daggers and expect to get through security and detectors, which some inner-city schools now have.”
There were real fears of what could happen if the daggers weren’t banned, he added:
“Pupils wearing turbans could be robbed of their daggers by bigger kids, who could use them on them or others.
“It’s not racist to say that the Sikhs will have to accept that and find a way of abiding by society’s rules.
“There is no government guidance on this; schools have to make their own decisions.”
The Kirpan is one of five Sikh “Articles of Faith“, alongside Kes (unshorn hair), the Kangha (comb), Kara (steel bracelet) and Kaccehra (soldier’s shorts), designed “to unify and bind them to the beliefs of the religion and to remind them of their commitment to the Sikh Gurus at all times”.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.