Saturday, March 04, 2006

A ringing victory for religious toleration and multiculturalism from Canada: Canadian Supreme Court rules that Sikh children may bring knives to school. ACLU are you doing enough to keep up with our freer Northern neighbors?Multani v. Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys 2006 SCC 6 20060302 docket 30322 I think our squishy SCOTUS members who are so enamored of "foreign law" should take a few cues from their Canadian Supreme Court counterparts. I think schools in America are too concerned about safety after Columbine 1999. After all if more students had been armed a few goth cranks would not have been able to terrorize an entire school. Canoe Network. The Supreme Court of Canada struck down a Montreal school board's ban on the wearing of ceremonial daggers by Sikh students - delivering a ringing defence of religious freedom in the process.In an 8-0 judgment Thursday, the court quashed a decision that barred teenager Gurbaj Singh Multani from attending class wearing the dagger, known as a kirpan.The court left room for some restrictions on kirpans in the name of public safety. But a blanket ban goes too far and violates the Charter of Rights, wrote Justice Louise Charron. NB Earlier this year a Judge in Detroit dismissed a weapons charge against a Sikh college student at Wayne State for carrying the kirpan under similar conditions. release G and his father B are orthodox Sikhs. G believes that his religion requires him to wear a kirpan at all times; a kirpan is a religious object that resembles a dagger and must be made of metal. In 2001, G accidentally dropped the kirpan he was wearing under his clothes in the yard of the school he was attending. The school board sent G’s parents a letter in which, as a reasonable accommodation, it authorized their son to wear his kirpan to school provided that he complied with certain conditions to ensure that it was sealed inside his clothing. G and his parents agreed to this arrangement. The School District reversed the board decision and would not allow the boy to wear an authentic Kirpan. The parents sued. The Superior Court granted the motion, declared the decision to be null, and authorized G to wear his kirpan under certain conditions.The risk of G using his kirpan for violent purposes or of another student taking it away from him is very low, especially if the kirpan is worn under conditions such as were imposed by the Superior Court.Furthermore, there are many objects in schools that could be used to commit violent acts and that are much more easily obtained by students, such as scissors, pencils and baseball bats. The evidence also reveals that not a single violent incident related to the presence of kirpans in schools has been reported. Although it is not necessary to wait for harm to be done before acting, the existence of concerns relating to safety must be unequivocally established for the infringement of a constitutional right to be justified. Nor does the evidence support the argument that allowing G to wear his kirpan to school could have a ripple effect. Lastly, the argument that the wearing of kirpans should be prohibited because the kirpan is a symbol of violence and because it sends the message that using force is necessary to assert rights and resolve conflict is not only contradicted by the evidence regarding the symbolic nature of the kirpan, but is also disrespectful to believers in the Sikh religion and does not take into account Canadian values based on multiculturalism.

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