Kirpans on Planes: Source of Danger or False Alarm?
by Camillebouchard on December 3, 2017 - 8:26pm
The kirpan, a ceremonial dagger carried by the Sikh at all times, has always been the subject of an ongoing dispute concerning the safety surrounding it. Recently, it has been made public that Kirpans would be allowed on planes, although with some restrictions; the ceremonial blade, when carried on planes, can only be at a length of six centimeters or less. In the article published by CBC, the support of Sikh organization towards the allowance of Kirpans on planes is highlighted.
According to the Sikh, it is a step in the right direction to make accommodation regarding religious beliefs. Although this accommodated the Sikh people, the legislation does include some reasonable constraints. The kirpan cannot be longer than six centimeters, as mentioned above, and it has to be worn under the clothes as well as being wrapped in some cover to prevent it from potentially injuring anyone easily. As mentioned in the article, the safety and security of Canadians remain the priority in the government’s eyes, hence why there are some specific regulations surrounding the wear of the kirpan in areas such as planes.
Although Canada is stepping up to fit the international standards, some additional restrictions to the law apply. Kirpan wearers can travel almost anywhere except in some specific countries like the United States, who do not accept anyone who wears kirpans on flights. Despite its adherence to standards held by many countries to allow the kirpan on planes, the Canadian government remains careful in the way they are making laws around kirpan wear.
A challenge to this opinion relies in the fact that although this item is not used as a threat in the Sikh religion at all, it could potentially be used as a weapon. Although barely anyone would ever perceive certain items as dangerous or potentially harmful, some items are not allowed on planes for the exact same reasons. For instance, nail clippers, bottle openers and scissors are not allowed on a plane despite their main use not being viewed as threatening to another human being, and the same thing is happening with kirpans.
Although I do understand that it could be logical to ban kirpans on planes since there is the slight possibility of them being used in harmful and dangerous ways, I do not feel personally endangered by anyone who would wear this symbolic object on them while I’m on the same flight. However, allowing kirpans on planes when items such as nail files are not allowed is what sometimes makes me question whether I am for or against the lift on the kirpan ban on planes. Overall, since kirpan is a religious item that is not meant to be used in harmful ways, I would say I agree with the decision to allow people to wear them on planes.
Where do you think the line should be drawn on items allowed on planes and why?
“World Sikh Organization welcomes Canadian decision to allow small kirpans on flights.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 10 Nov. 2017, www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-tuesday-edition-1.4391247/world-sikh-organization-welcomes-canadian-decision-to-allow-small-kirpans-on-flights-1.4391256.