Sikh Student Detained On UNC Campus For Wearing Kirpan: A Curved Dagger Central to Faith

Officials at a North Carolina college have been chastised. After A Sikh student was arrested for carrying a kirpan. The curved dagger that some Sikhs carry as part of their faith.

A Sikh Student Detained for carrying the Religious Kirpan

The occurrence occurred Thursday during the construction of a student union at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. A 44-second video of the incident was made public. On Friday afternoon on Twitter, it has since been viewed over 3.5 million times.

Kirpans are one of five critical symbolic items in Sikh religious expression. They are sometimes blunt and sewn into the sheath.

“Unfortunately, we’re still having these issues in 2022,” said Kiran Kaur Gill, government director also known in the capacity of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund example known SALDEF. “It’s a way to practice and demonstrate faith.” You often can’t even get them out of the sheath.”

Sikh Community Group

The Sikh Coalition is a community advocacy group. It claims organization based in New York City; there are approximately 500,000 Sikh Americans in the United States.

Hate crimes have targeted the Sikh community in the United States. In April 2021, four Sikhs were killed as part of an eight-person mass photographing spree at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The unnamed student, wearing a turban, sits throughout the video from one other student in a communal space of the college’s student middle. With the sheathed kirpan slung around his shoulder.

“You can’t have this,” an officer says, seemingly attempting to pull the kirpan out.
“OK, but you can’t take it away from me,” the student says, raising his arms. “Do you want me to take it all off?”

When the officer does not respond, he asks the same question again. Instead, the officer pulls the student by one arm and tells him to “stand up for a second.”

“What are you up to with me, bro??” The student says as he steps over his backpack.
The officer cuffs the student by pulling his arms behind his back. “OK, so you’re just being detained right now,” the officer says.

Student Statement on Twitter

The student stated on Twitter that he did not intend to post the video but did not believe he would receive any support from university officials.

“I was told that someone called 911 and reported me and that I was handcuffed for refusing to let the officer take my kirpan,” he wrote.

Several people used social media to voice their concerns and displeasure. Pointing out that Associate Vice Chancellor for Safety and Security, John Bogdan the university, had been appointed a former commander at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay. Others shared a Sikh fact sheet compiled by the Sikh Coalition.

“I have to admit that I was previously unaware of the kirpan. Its significance, or that it has authorized exemptions,” wrote another. But, once again, I’m not a campus cop on a multicultural campus. The people we pay to implement laws should be well-versed in our rules.”

Sharon Gaber, University Chancellor, and Brandon Wolfe, Chief Diversity Officer, issued an apology statement Friday. Explaining that college police dispatch had received a 911 report of someone with a knife inside “The structure.” Officers from the police department arrived on the scene. Engaged the suspect. Person in question,” according to the statement.

“The individual was placed in handcuffs during this interaction while officers took possession of the object.”

Police eventually determined that the knife was a kirpan. One of the five articles of religion central to Sikh expression.

“The 5 Ks” by Sikhs: Religious connection

These five items, known as “the 5 Ks” by Sikhs, demonstrate one’s devotion to the faith. They include kesh, or unshorn hair, which represents spirituality or a connection with God; kara, a steel bracelet that serves as a reminder to do the right thing in one’s daily actions; kanga, a small comb that represents cleanliness; and kachori, an undergarment that represents discipline.

“It’s about protecting the oppressed and weak,” Kaur explained. “You’re wearing it to demonstrate your commitment to that value.” It’s not just about defending someone physically. It’s both literal and metaphorical; you stand up and speak out when you see injustice.”

While misunderstandings about the kirpan occasionally occur on college campuses, Kaur claims they were more common in the decade following 9/11. In such cases, the coalition usually tries to educate students, employees, and public officials about the faith. What the kirpan is, and why it is carried?

“We’ve been able to resolve all of the cases we’ve handled because courts across the country recognize that kirpans are first and foremost articles of faith. We allow people to practice in this country their faith,” Kaur said. “In the last decade, there has been a lot of cultural competencies.”

Kaur’s Statement

According to Kaur, Federal Protective Service policy allows for wearing kirpans in federal facilities. Whether for employees or individuals entering a U.S. immigration office for a citizenship interview. Many workplaces do, though she noted that Sikhs occasionally contact the coalition to intercede with new or potential employers to avoid misunderstandings.

“The EEOC has litigated several kirpan cases,” she explained, referring to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the United States. “It’s become common knowledge that Sikhs are required to wear several articles of faith, including the kirpan.”

For example, in 2010, a Sacramento-area nursing home operator agreed to pay $30,000. To provide workers with Religious discrimination training to settle a lawsuit filed by the EEOC. After a Sikh employee was denied using her kirpan despite providing proof of its religious significance.

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Law to Protect Such Religious Significance are Practiced

While state law and campus policy prohibit the possession of knives or other edged instruments on campus. University officials stated, “By engaging in constructive dialogue with Sikh students and employees. We will use this as a learning opportunity.” We are confident that by collaborating, we can find reasonable measures and educational opportunities. That will both protect and educate. Our campus’s safety and our community members’ religious practices.”

In June 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that Iknoor Singh. A Sikh Hofstra University student could join the United States Army’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program. Without shaving, cutting his hair, or removing his turban.

The student was unavailable for comment. Gill of SALDEF stated that the organization has been in contact with him and his family. The student refused to be identified.

“He’s understandably upset because there’s this difficult dichotomy between wanting to feel accepted. Being in this diverse space and feeling like you can’t practice your religion and be who you are,” Gill explained.

The university concluded that diversity “makes us a better, richer, and more profitable neighborhood.” “We need every Niner to feel welcomed, supported, and safe. The University administration regrets that this younger man did not feel that way in our union yesterday. We are committed to ensuring that it does not happen again.”

Sikhs: Occasionally Conducts Cultural Training

Gill said that SALDEF occasionally conducts cultural training for law enforcement agencies or universities to avoid such occurrences. It is hoped that the university will follow suit.
Participants march down Madison Avenue in New York on Saturday, April 27, 2019, to commemorate the Sikh holiday of Vaisakhi.

“In terms of what he’s hoping for, and what the community is hoping for, it’s that policy accommodations will be made for Sikh students who choose to wear their article of faith,” Gill said. “Hopefully, it will catalyze people to come together, educate themselves, and ultimately make this better for other students.” Kaur concurred.

“No one should be arrested because they practice their faith,” she said.

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