Canadian Press, July 23, 2002
MONTREAL (CP) – A school board has asked the Quebec Court of Appeal to prevent a Sikh boy from wearing his ceremonial dagger to a suburban high school. The Marguerite-Bourgeoys school board wants the appeals court to overturn a lower-court ruling that allowed Gurbaj Singh, 12, to wear his kirpan in class.
The board cited security concerns and the public interest as the main reasons for its challenge of Quebec Superior Court Justice Danielle Grenier’s decision last May 17. The board contends Singh or another student could unsheathe the kirpan and use it as a weapon. “(Justice Grenier) allowed the student to carry a weapon under the erroneous assumption that it could be neutralized or secured by its sheath,” the board said Monday.
“It is, without question, in the public interest to forbid the possession of weapons in schools.”
The board says Grenier’s ruling applied only to Singh’s former elementary school and not the nearby high school he will be attending in the fall.
The appeal is scheduled to be heard next Wednesday.
Grenier ruled that Singh can wear his blunt kirpan to school, provided the dagger is concealed under his clothing and encased in a wooden sheath.
The battle over security and religious freedom escalated last month when the Quebec government and the board sought permission from the appeals court to challenge Grenier’s ruling.
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