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Canada high court overturns school board ban on Sikh daggers

[JURIST] The Supreme Court of Canada [official website] on Thursday unanimously overturned [decision text] a Quebec school board's ban on carrying Sikh ceremonial daggers at school, ruling that it infringed students' religious freedom under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms [text]. Gurbaj Singh, 17, challenged the ban [CHRC factum] after a school prohibited him from carrying the dagger when it accidentally fell from his clothing in 2001. Sikhism [Wikipedia backgrounder] requires that Sikh males wear the ceremonial dagger, known as a kirpan [Wikipedia backgrounder], at all times, but they are forbidden to use it as a weapon. CBC News has more.

The Canadian ruling comes in the context of international tension over the wearing of religious dress [JURIST news archive] in schools. Sikh turbans have been at the center of several disputes; a US-based Sikh group announced in January that it will use EU anti-discrimination law to challenge a new French law [JURIST report] banning religious dress, including Sikh turbans, in state academies.

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