Sikh community speaks out against Quebec kirpan ban

February 10th, 2011 - 3:15 pm ICT by ANI  

Ottawa (Canada), Feb.10 (ANI): The World Sikh Organization has expressed its disappointment over a unanimous vote in the National Assembly to bar the kirpan from all legislative buildings.

The Parti Québécois had tabled a motion supporting a decision last month by security officials to block members of the Sikh community from entering the National Assembly after they refused to remove their kirpans.

Members of the World Sikh Organization of Canada had been invited to appear before a committee debating a bill on reasonable accommodation of religious minorities that dealt with restrictions on the wearing of the niqab when obtaining some government services.

“We’re disappointed that the wearing of the kirpan, which is a human rights issue, has been politicized,” Balpreet Singh, WSO legal counsel, said in a press release on Wednesday.

The Globe and Mail further quoted Balpreet Singh, as saying: “Today’s vote represents a turn away from the values of tolerance and multiculturalism. We had expressed a desire to sit down with security at the National Assembly and have a rational discussion about the kirpan, but it seems this debate is no longer about the niqab or the kirpan, it’s about the inclusion of minorities in Quebec.”

The 113 MNAs present in the National Assembly, including Premier Jean Charest, voted for the ban, but not all for the same reasons.

While the PQ said it was acting to underscore Quebec’s neutrality in dealing with religious groups, the Liberals argued that the ban is needed for security reasons.

Immigration Minister Kathleen Weil said: “The decision to support it (the ban on the kirpan) was taken for security reasons.” (ANI)

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