Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sikhs’ ceremonial daggers now allowed in Toronto courthouses 
Toronto has become the first city in Canada to develop a formal policy allowing Sikhs to bring their ceremonial daggers into its courthouses.

The kirpan, which is a stylized representation of a sword, will be allowed in public areas of Toronto courthouses subject to certain conditions.

For instance, the court officer must be informed the person is a Khalsa Sikh, which is an initiated Sikh, and that they are carrying a kirpan.

The kirpan, which has an exaggerated curve at the end, must also pass the metal detector. The kirpan has a tip and can have a sharp end much like a pen or pencil.

The total length of the kirpan, including sheath, may not exceed 7.5 inches with a blade of not more than 4 inches. In addition, the kirpan must be worn under clothing and not be easily accessible.

The kirpan is often described as a dagger, which it resembles, but Sikhs say that description is misleading. It is an important article of faith, representing spiritual wisdom and the duty to stand against injustice.

"The risk of the kirpan being used as a weapon has been virtually eliminated," Balpreet Singh, legal counsel for the World Sikh Organization of Canada, told the Star.

The religious ideology of the Sikhs spells out that the kirpan should not be used as a weapon, and it is retained in a fabric belt worn under clothing, Singh said.

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