Members of a Michigan Sikh community are upset after a child was banned from bringing a religious sword to a public school.
The incident occurred at Bentley Elementary School in Canton. A fourth grader was caught wearing a small saber underneath his clothing.
The Sikh faith is the world's fifth largest religion. Any person who has been baptized into the religion is expected to carry the saber all the time.
"It's a religious symbol," Sikh leader Teikiran Singh told Fox News, disputing the notion that it was a weapon. "It just reminds you of your spirituality. It's a fight against your internal evils."
The principal initially allowed the child to keep the sword but the Plymouth-Canton School District later determined the religious symbol resembled a weapon and was officially banned.
Parents, many of whom did not want to be identified, agreed with the ban.
"It should stay home, in my opinion," one parent told Fox.
Another said, "If it's somebody's religion, I would wonder if there's a reason or purpose for them to have to have it at school."
But Singh stressed that no one is in danger.
"Equal damage could be done with a fork or with a butter knife," he said. "Every kid has a pair of scissors, a pencil."
Sikh leaders are hoping to meet with school officials and work out a compromise that will allow their children to practice their faith.