A Sikh student at UNC Charlotte was handcuffed after someone mistook a part of their religious attire for a knife and called 911
- A Sikh student at UNC Charlotte was handcuffed after an unidentified person called 911 on them.
- The caller had mistaken a religious item, a kirpan, for a knife, the university said in a statement.
The University of North Carolina Charlotte apologized after a Sikh student was placed in handcuffs when his religious attire was mistaken for a weapon.
A student carrying a kirpan, a curved dagger that is a symbolic expression of faith in Sikhism, was handcuffed and detained on Thursday at UNC Charlotte's Student Union, USA Today reported. Someone had called 911 confusing the kirpan which was wrapped in a miyaan, a sheath, for a knife.
The kirpan is "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, told USA Today.
In a statement on Friday, UNC Charlotte apologized for the incident.
"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," the statement said. "Together, we are confident we can find reasonable measures and educational opportunities that both protect the safety of our campus and the religious practices of our community members."
The incident was captured on video and posted to Twitter where it went viral.
"I wasn't going to post this, but I don't think I will receive any support from @unccharlotte. I was told someone called 911 and reported me, and I got cuffed for "resisting" because I refused to let the officer take my kirpan out of the miyaan," the tweet said.
In the brief video, an officer asked the student who was sitting in a chair in the student union to stand up and that he couldn't have the kirpan on him.
—امآن وڑائچ (@thatsamaan) September 23, 2022
"What are you doing to me, bro?" the student replied.
The student told the officer that he couldn't remove the kirpan.
"OK. You can't take it off me. You want me to take the whole thing off?" the student asked.
In the video, the officer tells the student that he is being detained.
According to UNC Charlotte's statement, the handcuffs were removed after the kirpan was retrieved. In a subsequent tweet, the student said the kirpan was returned to him.
The student and UNC Charlotte's Punjabi Sikh Student Association did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
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