The Supreme Court of Canada recently ruled that a blanket ban by any school on carrying a kirpan to classrooms is an infringement on the constitutional right to freedom of religion. Such a ruling has thrown the usual arguments about freedom of religion and multiculturalism on one hand, and public safety on the other.
I find that opponents of this ruling, touting the kirpan as a weapon and threat, forget one important thing. The Supreme Court did not prohibit schools from placing restrictions on the kirpan. A school can ask that the kirpan be blunt, limited in size, sheathed in sealed cases or clothing, and worn underneath clothing. Such restrictions are not banned by the Court, rather, the Court struck down the practice of issuing blanket bans on kirpans.
As a Muslim, I always support such rulings in favor of multiculturalism. It can be remembered, that few years ago, opponents opposed giving Sikh RCMP officers the right to wear turbans, all in the name of tradition and culture and public safety. I ask them, have we lost anything now that these officers wear turbans?
To use the kirpan as a weapon, a Sikh will have to bring it out from under his clothes, break the seal, take it out and then use it. There is plenty of time to run away before that happens. If he brings it to school unsealed and ready to attack, he will be breaking the conditions. Therefore the Supreme Court rulings make sense. Similar arguments can now be made by women who wear the jilbab, burkha, or other multicultural clothing, when it comes to rulings against their freedom to wear such clothes.
Tags: Kirpan Multiculturalism