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Kirpan - Offensive Weapon?

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8500712.stm

Basically a Sikh judge says that Sikhs should be able to wear their Kirpans everywhere.  Including schools.

Interesting quote on the BBC site that says you wouldn't know whether somebody was wearing one on their person or not as they're discreet.

Are Kirpans sharp?  Or are they just symbols that are now provided for by, effectively, a piece of 2mm steel with no sharp edge at all?  Can they be plastic?

From a non-religious point of view, what we have is a Sikh carrying an offensive weapon.  In a school.  Which is fine as long as he doesn't decide one day to use that on somebody - I wouldn't want my kid to be on the receiving end - and the backlash might be pretty bad.

There must be some historical reason why Sikhs had to wear one when the religion started.........

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I may be out on a limb here but surely an of/weap is just, not exclusions for 'religious reasons' and they should not be carried by anyone.  There has to be a boundary somewhere.

What is to stop some other person found in possession claiming the defence that he was a Sikh?

How long is the blade. I would have no objection to one being carried but when attending a religious service, but then and only then, providing it was carried in a secure box before  entering the temple.

What about Sikh police officers will they opt to carry it on duty? (I Think not)

What if the carrier gets into a ruck and the knife gets into the opponents hands?

Will Sikhs become 'targets' knowing that they carry the knife?

The whole country has gone totally mad!

BIkerider2010-02-08 11:44:10

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CARRYING OF KIRPAN

A similar situation arises from the carrying of a `dirk,' which is really a dagger, by Scotsmen as part of traditional Highland Dress.

The dirk is usually carried in the stocking of the carrier and the handle is traditionally visible just above the top of the stocking.

When I joined we were told there was judicial precedent which held that when a dirk was in a person's possession as part of Highland Dress he had `reasonable excuse' for having it with him and should not be arrested. 

Of course, if he was not in Highland Dress he would be arrested.

I expect Sikhs might be in a similar situation with regard to the Kirpan

and,indeed, their case might be stronger as it also has a religious dimension.

I only knew 2 Sikh Police Officers during my service but they were not traditionalists and carried none of the Sikh religious paraphenalia.  

 

 

 

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CARRYING OF KIRPAN

Further to my last, I draw attention to Section 139 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 which creates a DEFENCE to a charge of possession of a knife under certain circumstances which include having a knife for religious purposes or as part of national dress.

 

Of course, the carrier could still be arrested and charged and it would be up to him to present such a defence in court. However, in practice, I doubt if many prosecutions would proceed unless the accused had been threatening people or brandishing the weapon concerned.   

 

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I've heard of some Sikhs carrying plastic replicas. I remember doing a Vaisaki festival in Handsworth a couple of years ago, and it all went very wrong. 100's of Sikhs started fighting and swords were drawn. They charged at the officers with them, myself included!

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The Kirpan forms part of the 5 K's which symbolise a follower of Sikhism's devotion to their faith. these are;

The Kesh - Uncut Hair

The Kara - a steel bracelet

The Kanga - a wooden comb

The Kaccha or Kach - a type of cotton underwear

and The Kirpan - A ceremonial sword

 

Each of these symbolise various parts of the faith which i will not detail here. However, there is no set size or indeed shape for the Kirpan. It can be anything from a few cm to over 3 feet long. It can b eworn over or under the clothing. specificaly it symbolises, spirituality, the soldier part of the soldier saints, defence of the good and of the weak, the struggle against injustice nad as a metaphor for God. Sikhism promotes tolerance and peace and it would be out of character for a kirpan to be wielded as a weapon of offence. As other members have already pointed out - as a religious symbol it enjoys a special defence in being carried by a sikh. However, many Sikh's living in Britain wear a small symbolic Kirpan on a neck chain. Hope this helps, but for more info the BBC has a great website that covers all religions or you could contact your force diversity unit.

 

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And to play devil's advocate, surely any person intent on using a knife in school would just take one in with them, and we all know some have.

Whether it's used in anger by the person wearing it or taken by another, all criminal offences remain.

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The kirpan is the last of the five K's to be achieved and therefore it is unlikely that someone at school would posses one anyway. This has been asked before and I think if I was to come across someone carrying one I would engage this thing called common sense and look at the surrounding situation in which it was being carried in the first place. 

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(Sorry Mav, this topic was already current so I moved your useful post.)

 

Actually, it's a very useful article because I was confused. A Sikh I used to work with had told a group of us over coffee one day that he had a symbolic sword along with his comb under his turban, so I was confused by all the talk above regarding real daggers and plastic replicas... I see now that they can have a replica actually attached to the comb.

 

So if this fulfills the relgious criterion, why are people wanting to carry what does amount to an offensive weapon into school? I was under the impression that carrying a knife to school is a specific offence over and above the offensive weapon law.Confused
M&MBM2010-02-10 09:43:00

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 In a training seminar with a Sikh lecturer. He made it quite clear that the wearing of a Kirpan was mandatory but that it was more than sufficient for it to be a small silver or metal charm worn on a chain around the neck, or even on a bracelet. Perhaps many of you have noticed the neck charm Kirpan being worn. This was also stated by Sikhs I met in India. I was also amazed in India to see school children in school uniform grey shorts, red blazers and caps.  I did ask the question about the wearing of uniform and tolerance of religious symbols. The answer that was given to me was, "In India without an education you have nothing. If you want an education, then you will abide by the school dress code, simple".  That is why I find it extraordinary when this becomes an issue in this country.  Perhaps it is because we bend over backwards to be tolerant.  The same applies to the Turban, there are acceptable ways around the issue, and you could ask so many Indian cricketers how, people like Bishan Bedi, and British Sikhs playing cricket.

 

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Nobody should be allowed to carry any sort of offensive weapon. When anyone with a kirpan leaves their home they must not take it with them or it should be plastic. Also do actual police officers answer? And kirpans definitely shouldn't be allowed in schools i swear some kid in one of my previous schools brought a knife in. 

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