Liberal Party leader says Sikhs have right to carry kirpan in Canada

Friday, January 21, 2011

TORONTO - Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff has defended the right of Sikhs to carry the kirpan.

Kirpan is a curved ceremonial dagger and is regarded as one of the key religious symbols of the Sikh community. Canadian lawmakers such as Navdeep Bains routinely carry it.

The Bloc Quebecois (BQ), a federal political party in Canada, had sought a parliamentary ban on the kirpan after four Sikhs, who refused to surrender their ceremonial daggers, were denied entry to the Quebec National Assembly.

Ignatieff said Sikhs should have the right to wear the kirpan in all democratic institutions, including Quebec’s National Assembly, and added that the ceremonial dagger is not a weapon.

“All Canadians have the right to access their democratic and parliamentary spaces. It’s a question of tolerance, of religious freedom,” The Globe and Mail quoted Ignatieff, as saying.

Citing unbending security rules, National Assembly officials turned away four Sikhs this week after they refused to surrender their pointy-but-edgeless ceremonial daggers. One day later, the Bloc Qu�b�cois proposed Parliament in Ottawa should consider a similar measure.

The move surprised federal parties and left some twisting. The Conservatives punted questions to the sergeant-at-arms, saying they don’t wish to play politics with security. After some delay, the NDP blasted the Bloc proposition as shameful.

Quebec has less than 3 per cent of Canada’s Sikh population and a growing secular streak. (ANI)

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