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Sikh student allowed kirpan in New York school


NEW YORK, March 26 2005

A New York school district has revoked the suspension on a Sikh teenager for carrying a kirpan and allowed him to wear a smaller version of the sacred religious symbol.

Authorities in the Central 7 school district agreed to lift the suspension on Amandeep Singh, a ninth-grade honours student of Hartsdale, media reports here said.

Singh was suspended from Woodlands High School on February 4 for eight days after he was found carrying a kirpan, which school authorities believed was a weapon.

"We had to balance the student's First Amendment Rights along with the safety of all of our students in the district," school superintendent Josephine Mofett was quoted as saying, while explaining that weapons of all kinds are forbidden at school.

Soon after the suspension, Singh's brother Kamaldeep Singh met school officials and demonstrated that several other classroom items, including a steel ruler and compass, were sharper than the kirpan, which was 3 inches long, the reports said.

The kirpan was "as sharp as a butter knife," Kamaldeep Singh said, adding that Amandeep had explained the significance of the kirpan to his teachers and never displayed it at school until the authorities asked to see it.

After the suspension was widely published, the Becket Fund for religious liberty in Washington sent their lawyers for assisting Amandeep. "What we have here is evidence of religious discrimination," Jared Leland, media and legal counsel for Becket, was quoted as saying.

The school authorities were convinced and revoked and suspension last week (PTI)


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