The World Sikh Organization (WSO) of Canada has called on the Sikh community worldwide and Sikh authorities to reject the proposed Italian modification of the kirpan.
The WSO’s president, Mukhbir Singh, has written to Jathedar Gurbachan Singh and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, encouraging them to strongly reject any attempt to re-design the kirpan or have it produced and issued by Italian authorities.
“This type of interference in the Sikhs’ right to wear the kirpan is unprecedented and unacceptable. No government has the right to issue a kirpan to Gursikhs and furthermore, any government alteration or interference with the shape or attributes of a kirpan is intolerable. Acceptance of this model will have severe and negative repercussions for Sikhs across the world,” Mukhbir wrote.
According to reports, an Italian delegation seeking approval of a modified kirpan met with Jathedar of the Akal Takht, the highest Sikh religious regulatory body, Gurbachan Singh seeking the Akal Takht’s blessings for the modified design. The modified kirpan would be produced in Italy and issued to Sikhs with an individualised serial number and license. The proposed kirpan would be flexible and does not appear to have a tip or edge. Only these modified weapons could be worn by Sikhs in Italy.
“We are writing to express our concern with respect to the recent presentation by an Italian delegation led by S Sukhdev Singh Kang of a specially designed kirpan for approval by Sri Akal Takht Sahib,” the letter read.
The WSO chief added that the Sikh community has managed to get the concept of wearing a kirpan widely accepted and accommodated in Canada. While agreements have included limits on size or required that the kirpan is worn underneath the clothes, no attempt to alter or regulate the shape or attributes has ever been accepted by Sikhs.
The WSO said it was prepared to assist Italian Sikhs in challenging the restrictions and allowing the Italian government to interfere in the Sikhs’ right to wear the kirpan is the wrong approach and cannot be permitted.