A front page article titled "Hide and Sikh" in the Courier Mail has cast a spotlight on the Kirpan (a Sikh article of faith), of whether it can be worn inside any school premises.
The article, published on the front page of the Courier Mail on August 30, and followed up by another article today on Page 12, cites an 18 month old case, describes the Kirpan as a "sword" and raises concerns about 'Student Safety."
Kamaljit Kaur, who is the Brisbane-based Director of Sikh Nishkam Society of Australia told SBS Punjabi that the article "was mischievous, and was aimed at misguiding the wider community about the reasons why a Sikh wears a Kirpan."
Ms Kaur was one of the few Sikh community advocates who have worked alongside the Queensland government about matters concerning the Kirpan, for many years now.
"In late 2011, we were successful in getting an amendment to the Weapons Act legislation of Queensland, which allowed Sikhs to wear a Kirpan in public places," Ms Kaur said in an interview with SBS Punjabi.
"But in those days, there had been an unfortunate knife incident at a Brisbane school, because of which we agreed that the Kirpan exemption shouldn't apply to schools. I must clarify though, that the school incident I mentioned had nothing to do with a kirpan, and was an unrelated event that took place around the same time the Weapons Act amendment was put in place."
"We then informed the Sikh community of Queensland that whilst they were allowed to wear a Kirpan in public places, it must always be worn under their clothing."
"As for wearing a kirpan at school, it was meant to be assessed on a case by case - and this is what happened in the case of the Sikh grandparent 18 months ago. It's unfortunate that that story is now being highlighted this way."
"The Sikh community is an extremely law abiding and progressive community in Australia. We've been here for over 100 years and people have been wearing Kirpans all this while, without any unpleasant incidents."
'But this article in the Courier Mail has put the whole issue in a very negative light. One questions the motivation behind the publication of an 18 month old matter on a front page like this."
"We are now in the process of organising discussions with the Education Department in Queensland, with the Minister of Multicultural Affairs, with the Police and others, to resolve this matter. As community members, we fulfil our responsibilities and obligations to the society we live in, and we work in partnership with the authorities to resolve such issues."
'We also urge the Sikh community to please be responsible and wear the Kirpan under their clothing at public places," Ms Kaur added. "This is to avoid any misunderstanding by people who don't know why Sikhs wear a Kirpan, or that it is an article of faith for them."
SBS Punjabi has also contacted the Courier Mail for a comment about the front page article in their newspaper yesterday. We are still awaiting their response.