Kirpan carrying Sikhs barred from entering Quebec legislature

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

QUEBEC - Four Sikhs invited to appear before a Quebec legislative committee to debate a bill that deals with the reasonable accommodation of religious minorities, were barred from entering the National Assembly building after metal detectors discovered that they were carrying kirpans.

Security agents ruled that the kirpans, or ceremonial daggers, they carried were a potential weapon.

“It’s a bit ironic. We were here to speak on the issue of accommodation and we weren’t accommodated,” said Balpreet Singh, the legal counsel of the group.

The incident overshadowed the conclusion of an eight-month hearing over a controversial bill that prohibits anyone from covering their face when receiving certain government services. Bill 94 takes direct aim at the wearing of the niqab, which has been viewed as a symbol of submission of women and a violation of their equality rights.

The Sikhs were to appear before the committee to defend a view argued by other religious groups - that Bill 94 “would set a dangerous precedent.”

Tuesday’s incident could evolve into yet another court battle.

Singh said the Sikh community will “examine all our options” if the National Assembly refuses to changes its security measures.

But head of security Pierre Duchesne said he doesn’t believe the rules should be changed.

“In my opinion it [the kirpan] is a knife … It isn’t because it’s worn by a Sikh and that it’s a religious symbol that at some point it won’t be used by a crackpot. Sikhs can also have mental problems,” he said. (ANI)

Tags: ,
will not be displayed