PERTH, Australia—British experts have moved to reassure Western Australian parents concerned by a Perth pupil being given permission to carry a Kirpan to school.
Sikh children have been carrying Kirpans in UK schools for the past 50 years – and there has never been a single incident, the Sikh Federation (UK) says.
The comments came after a representative from Perth’s Sikh community addressed the parents and citizens committee at a public primary school about the significance of the Kirpan.
The Kirpan, which is only 5cm long in this particular case and is one of five religious articles that must be worn by a baptized (Amritdhari) Sikhs.
A spokesman for The Sikh Federation (UK) told Perth that WA parents have “nothing to fear”.
The fact that there has not been a single case in a school in the UK for the last 50 years involving the Kirpan demonstrates that parents of non-Sikh children have nothing to fear.
We suspect that there are incidents in Australian schools every week that involve some form of violence and possibly the use of weapons so this needs to be put into context.
Sikh children have probably been wearing Kirpans in UK schools for up to 50 years.
We estimate there may now be as many as 10-15,000 Sikh children in the UK who are practicing (Amritdhari) Sikhism in schools.
The Department for Education some 10-12 years ago gave specific guidance to schools pointing out practicing (Amritdhari) Sikh children in schools were allowed to wear the Kirpan and teachers denying Sikhs this right could be prosecuted for discrimination under UK law.
Balvinder Kaur, from the Sikh Council UK, said:
We appreciate that some non-Sikh parents may have concerns about the carrying of Kirpans in schools.
Our experience is that often these can be resolved through dialogue.
Our key message is that Sikh pupils wearing a Kirpan are likely to be very spiritual, disciplined and well behaved.
If they were to ever threaten anyone then they would be reprimanded by their peers, family and the community. Abuse of the Kirpan by a baptised Sikh is a very rare occurrence.
PerthNow revealed on Friday that a primary school student had been granted permission to carry the blunt Kirpan to school, in a decision that prompted some parents to raise concerns about it “falling into the wrong hands” and vent on social media.
The Sunday Times revealed on the weekend that the family at the center of the row said their child “poses no safety risk”.
“It means a lot to our family and the Sikh community that the Department of Education and the school have shown a great respect for our child’s religious beliefs,” the family said, in a statement issued to The Sunday Times.
“The Kirpan our child wears to school is small, blunt, and poses no safety risk to any children or staff in the school.”