The Sikh community should not be surprised its members have been banned from taking kirpans into World Cup cricket matches.

But they might well be justified in complaining about it.

The Human Rights Commission said this week it had received a complaint of alleged unlawful discrimination on the grounds of religion on the wearing of kirpans at New Zealand Cricket World Cup venues.

Seven Sikh cricket fans were refused entry to Eden Park to watch a World Cup match between India and Zimbabwe last Saturday because they were wearing kirpans.

Advertisement

A kirpan is a ceremonial sword or dagger carried by Sikhs for religious purposes.

The Supreme Sikh Council says the kirpan is one of five articles of faith to be worn by baptised Sikhs at all times and cannot be removed.

The International Cricket Council says the kirpan is a knife, which falls foul of its rules regarding entry to its venues. Seems pretty straightforward doesn't it?

But is a ban really necessary?

I can understand why airlines would ban the carrying of knives on board - though the Government is considering loosening the rules around kirpans - but I'm not sure a patron at a cricket match would constitute quite the same potential threat to public safety as an armed air passenger would.

The absurdity becomes clear when you consider that anyone wishing to take a knife into a match with the intent to hurt someone could easily smuggle one in. But Sikhs, who are open about their need and desire to carry kirpans, are pulled up at the gate and turned away. Doesn't quite seem right.