Winston Peters is opposing a National MP’s member’s bill, put into the ballot two years ago, that would allow Sikhs to carry a ceremonial dagger known as a Kirpan.
The New Zealand First leader is citing a report on the website Politik which quotes Prime Minister Bill English saying it will become law if National is re-elected.
Mr Peters says that would mean one law for Sikhs and another for the rest of New Zealand.
“If Sikhs can do this as part of their customs, then what do we say to Maori who want to carry the traditional weapons, a taiaha, or perhaps a Hindu who wants to carry a trident, their traditional three-pronged spear,” he said yesterday.
“We have sympathy for the Sikh community and their adherence to their laws, but they are in New Zealand now and it’s our laws that must apply.”
The bill was drafted by Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi and went into the ballot in August 2015.
It seeks to amend the Crimes Act so that Sikhs would be allowed to carry the Kirpan, a curved dagger in a metal sheath, beneath their clothing.
The bill states that the Kirpan must have a blade no longer than 10cm, it should be blunt, and the person carrying it would also have to be wearing the four other articles of faith uncut long hair, a comb, an iron bracelet and under shorts.
The Politik article, written by journalist Richard Harman and published yesterday, said Mr English told an Indian gathering in Auckland a week ago: “If re-elected, a National-led government will amend the Crimes Act to exempt Sikhs from carrying a Kirpan for religious reasons from being considered to be in possession of an offensive weapon.”
Under normal circumstances, the bill would have to be drawn from the ballot before going through Parliament but any members’ bill can be taken over by the Government and put on the order paper. NZN