University police handcuff, detain Sikh student openly carrying religious knife

A Sikh student at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte was handcuffed and detained by campus police Thursday over his open carrying of a kirpan, a small dagger seen as sacred in Sikhism.

“UNC Charlotte dispatch received a 911 call reporting someone with a knife in the building … State law and University policy prohibit the possession of a knife or other edged instruments on campus, but we will use this as a learning opportunity by engaging in constructive dialogue with Sikh students and employees,” UNCC said in a statement Friday.

Twitter user @thatsamaan uploaded a video of the incident and identified himself as the student carrying the dagger.

“I don’t think I will receive any support from [UNCC]… I got cuffed for “resisting” because I refused to let the officer take my kirpan out of the miyaan [scabbard].

Oftentimes, a kirpan is blunt and even sewn into its sheath or scabbard.

“It’s a way of practicing and showing faith. A lot of times you can’t even remove them from the sheath,” Kiran Kaur Gill, executive director of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) told USA Today.

Thursday’s instance was not the first time a Sikh student had run into temporary trouble on a college campus over their kirpan.

“In all the cases we’ve handled we’ve been able to favorably resolve them, because courts around the country recognize that kirpans are first and foremost articles of faith, and in this country we allow people to practice their faith,” Harsimran Kaur of the Sikh Coalition told USA Today.

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