OTTAWA – The World Sikh Organization of Canada said it condemns the kirpan policy introduced by the NSW Department of Education in Australia. They said the new kirpan policy fundamentally alters the nature of the kirpan by requiring that it be no more than 8.5cm in length and have “no sharp edges or points”.
While there had been a legal exemption for Sikh students and school staff in NSW to wear the kirpan until June 2021, following a school incident, a blanket ban had been imposed.
Notably, the kirpan has been accommodated in Canadian schools for decades without such unreasonable modifications and restrictions.
WSO President Tejinder Singh Sidhu said in a statement: “The NSW school kirpan policy cannot be accepted by the Sikh community. It is an unreasonable infringement on the rights of the Sikh community. A kirpan without an edge or a tip is no longer a kirpan.
“This policy compels Sikhs to fundamentally alter a sacred article of faith at the orders of the NSW Department of Education. This is a dangerous precedent that we condemn in the strongest terms.
“As we have noted before, the NSW Department of Education has punished the entire Sikh community based on a single unfortunate incident. Items such as scissors and pencils have been used in several incidents of assault and have not been removed from classrooms.
“No kirpan government policy can regulate the shape and attributes of the kirpan. At most, kirpan policies in Canada and other jurisdictions contemplate limits on the size of the kirpan or require the kirpan be worn underneath the clothes
“We encourage the Sikh community in Australia and worldwide to condemn the NSW policy as an unacceptable infringement on the rights of the Sikh community. The WSO is prepared to offer any assistance necessary to challenge this unjust policy.”
The WSO is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs, as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights for all individuals.