Sikh and Islamic Challenges of Living in a Secular Society

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Sikh and Islamic Challenges of Living in a Secular Society A secular society is a society strictly separated from religious institutions, which means there is no assigned state religion. Canada is a multicultural society, very accepting of all religious and cultural beliefs. Despite this, Canada is a secular society. There are many different religions in Canada, including Sikhism and Islam. While Canada is welcoming of these religions, each religion has its own battle with secular society. Accommodating everyone’s religion can be difficult, as seen through conflicts about Sikh males wearing the Kirpan (ceremonial dagger), and Muslim women wearing the Hijab. Sikhs and Muslims have conflicts with secular society. The Kirpan is a ceremonial dagger worn by baptized Sikhs. It is a requirement of Sikhism to wear the dagger at all times. This has caused controversy in Canada, because the Kirpan can be viewed as a weapon. The Kirpan was made into a mandatory article of faith for self-defense against oppression (not to be used with bad intentions of causing bodily harm). Despite this, there have been various instances in which the legality of the Kirpan has been questioned and disputed. One such event took place in Brampton in 2013. A grade three student at Copeland Public School wanted to wear the Kirpan during gym class. Administration was worried that “the Sikh ceremonial dagger could pose a safety risk during physical activity” (Brampton Guardian, 2013). Years before, in the early 90s, a high-profile human rights case caused policy changes in school boards across the province, which allowed Sikhs to wear the Kirpan in schools. The boy’s parents were adamant (the Kirpan is mandatory for all Sikhs), and administration eventually let the boy wear the dagger, as long as it was covered and taped to his body. This is only one of the many times when the Kirpan has been a

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