Vancouver Sun: Sikhs reach out to Bloc over proposed Parliament kirpan ban

The World Sikh Organization of Canada reached out to the Bloc Quebecois Thursday in an attempt to calm a brewing storm about the kirpan, the ceremonial dagger carried by religious Sikhs.

http://www.vancouversun.com/life/Sikh+organization+aims+prevent+kirpan/4142709/story.html

The World Sikh Organization of Canada reached out to the Bloc Quebecois Thursday in an attempt to calm a brewing storm about the kirpan, the ceremonial dagger carried by religious Sikhs.

"We feel that there has been lots of rhetoric thrown around and that the only way to overcome any issues that the kirpan might pose to someone is to have a dialogue," said Balpreet Singh, legal counsel for the non-profit umbrella organization that acts as a representative body for Sikhs across Canada.

"We're open to ... hearing people's thoughts or any concerns that they might have about safety, and we want to let people know about the meaning and significance of the kirpan and what reasonable accommodations have been found elsewhere."

The Bloc suggested this week that federal Parliament buildings should consider a ban on the kirpan, following an incident at Quebec's national assembly in which Singh and three other Sikhs were denied entry by security officials for carrying the object.

But Singh said he was surprised by the Bloc's position, raised by the party's whip, Claude DeBellefeuille, especially since it had endorsed a 2006 resolution in the House of Commons that recognized the importance of the five religious articles of faith for Sikhs, including the kirpan.

"We've met with Bloc MPs in the past," he said.

"We thought that they had a good knowledge about Sikh articles of faith and about the Sikh community in general, and if they had a concern, we think it would have been best if they [had come] to us and had a healthy discussion.

"It seems like this discussion has been turned into a little bit of a political game."

Bloc spokeswoman Isabelle Monette said the party has never changed its position on the kirpan.

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