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Updated Apr 16, 2015 - 2:03 pm

Controversy over student carrying religious knife in school

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If carrying a knife at all times is a religious tradition, should it still be restricted in schools?

One Sikh family approached Gildo Rey Elementary school in Auburn, Wash., and informed authorities that their young son would be carrying a Kirpan, which is a knife those of the Sikh faith carry at all times.

It is considered to be an “instrument of social justice” according to King 5 News in Seattle. One spokesman for the Gurudwara Sikh Center of Seattle even told King 5 that people “even wear it in the shower”.

Normally fairly small, a kirpan is, according to Sikh doctrine, not a weapon. It instead “encapsulates an initiated Sikh’s solemn obligation of courage and self-defense, as opposed to a talwar, a weapon of offense. A Sikh who wears a kirpan is not wearing it because it is a weapon; he or she is wearing it because it is part of their officially prescribed religious uniform.”

The knife will not be shown around to other students or even out at all. Instead, it will be carried under the student’s clothes at all times, according to Auburn Assistant Superintendent of Schools Ryan Foster.

“That allows them to express their religion without jeopardizing anyone’s feeling of safety,” he said.

Still, there is sure to be some negative feedback on the matter. Yet in related cases, the argument for religious freedom has won out, like in southern California in 2012 when kirpans were finally allowed in schools after much debate.

That case involved the Jurupa Unified School District, who’s superintendent, Elliot Duchon, said that there have been no complaints or violence involving kirpans at local schools.


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