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article imageSecret Service won't allow Sikh representatives meeting Pope wear ceremonial dagger

By Chris V. Thangham     Mar 6, 2008 in Politics
Pope Benedict XVI will visit the U.S. next month to meet with other religious leaders to show commitment to peace. Sikhs will not participate because the Feds have refused to give them permission to wear their ceremonial dagger.
Sikhs, representing the Sikhism, an Eastern religion, had been invited to join other religious leaders to meet with Pope Benedict XVI on April 17 in Washington to express a shared commitment to peace. But the Sikhs don’t want to participate unless they are allowed to wear the Kirpaan during the meeting.
The Kirpaan is a ceremonial dagger that Sikhs wear to show their commitment to resisting oppression and injustice. They wear it only for ceremonial purposes, not to initiate confrontation according to the World Sikh Council-America Region.
Anahat Kaur, secretary general of the Sikh Council said in a press statement:
We have to respect the sanctity of the kirpaan, especially in such interreligious gatherings…We cannot undermine the rights and freedoms of religion in the name of security."
The U.S. Secret Service in charge of protecting the Pope during the visit will not allow any weapons at the meeting. Ed Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman told the Associated Press:
We understand the kirpaan is a sanctified religious object. But by definition, it's still a weapon. We apply our security policy consistently and fairly."
Sister Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman for the conference, said the Catholic Bishops feel very sad this situation couldn’t be resolved.
In my opinion, this is a tough call; any religion or person should comply with local laws. In my opinion, the Sikhs should attend the conference and have their voices heard rather than totally losing out on the opportunity.
Should Sikhs be allowed to wear the dagger, or they should comply with the laws of the country?
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