white boys, jealous & prejudice about Sikh student's kirpan
MONTREAL, February 10, 2009
Heated arguments between lawyers and sikh boy's soft-spoken testimony
ended when trial that sees him accused of using the Sikh religious
object, a kirpan (ceremonial dagger), to threaten two of his schoolmates.
Yesterday, Gurbaj Singh Multani, 13, sikh student has appeared
in a Montreal court to face charges when two white schoolmates accused
Gurbaj that he threatened them with his kirpan and long hairpin
during arguments. It happened during lunch hour outside their school
in the town of LaSalle (Cavalier-de-LaSalle high school in the Marguerite
Bourgeoys school division) near Montreal on September 11, 2008.
The boys reported the matter to their principal and the police was
Interestingly, it is the same school board that fought in court
against the right of a Sikh student to wear the kirpan. In 2006,
the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that barring Montrealer Gurbaj
Singh Multani from wearing his dagger-like kirpan to school violates
the nation's Charter of Rights.
Gurbaj's lawyer argued the Persistent anti-kirpan sentiment in
Quebec combined with parental prejudice are at the root of criminal
charges brought against a Sikh boy.
Gurbaj's lawyer Julius Grey, a human-rights lawyer said:
- These two boys, jealous of [the accused], decided to teach him
a lesson. They had a certain prejudice they picked up at home,
and they invented a story
- A lot of people in this province had a hard time swallowing
the [Supreme Court]
- His client was charged because the school board involved was
the same one that took the issue of whether a Sikh person can
bring a kirpan to school to the Supreme Court of Canada and lost
- `This can be summed up by the title of a Shakespeare play, Much
Ado About Nothing
Julius Grey further said:
The accused was baptized as a Sikh at the end of August and only
had the kirpan for a few days when the incident occurred. When he
headed out to school each morning, his mother would wrap the kirpan
in a cloth and bind it with rubber bands.
Grey asked: ``Did you ever unwrap the kirpan?''
The boy said: ``No. Never.''
Grey asked: ``Did you ever show it to anyone?''
The boy said: ``No.''
The Sikh boy said: He only mentioned he was wearing a kirpan to
a close friend. He asked the boy to keep it a secret.
Grey said: What about the hairpin.
The boy said: It fell out of his pants about a week before the incident.
The plaintiffs noticed the pin and asked him what it was. He explained
that he uses it to tuck his hair underneath his turban when it falls
out, a frequent hassle for him.
Grey said: if he took it out during the argument with the two boys.
The boy said: I take it out often, so I don't remember.