British Sikh and Hindu groups release joint statement condemning EDL


by Jai
3rd February, 2011 at 9:00 am    

A number of the largest Sikh and Hindu organisations in Britain have formally released a joint statement forcefully condemning the EDL and any Sikhs who join them. The latter is of course particularly applicable to the EDL’s “Sikh” spokesman Guramit (sometimes known as “Amit”) Singh; he was also one of the EDL members interviewed by BBC’s Newsnight as part of a documentary about the group which the programme showed earlier this week. As previously discussed on Pickled Politics, Guramit himself is currently being prosecuted by the police for “intentionally causing religiously aggravated harassment alarm or distress, under Section Four of the Public Order Act 1986”, following a public speech by Guramit which included the following remarks:

“I’m going to tell you precisely right now what threat of Islam is. Muhammad and Islam is not a religion… Muhammad was a paedophilic pirate… Islam, in not just this country but around the world, has been using their disgusting threat, their threat has been going on for 1400 years, “if you do not bow before Muhammad and his so-called Allah, you are to be beheaded”… Hitler had fuck all on Muhammad.

The Koran and the Hadiths is written in Arabic. Muslims are not allowed to be taught Arabic in the mosque. Muslims are told, “do not question what your Imam says, although they don’t even know what the Imam’s saying, because the Imam’s just a “Allah, fuck it”. Stick your Allah up your arse, you cunt. Fuck em, fuck em, fuck em. I’m not being funny, fuck em. I may get arrested for this shit, but fuck em, fuck em, I’m not having it, fuck em, fuck em, fuck em, fuck em.”

The speech is available on Youtube. Guramit has also previously boasted on his Facebook page about his murderous hatred of Muslims:

“the muzzies wanna keep away from me im just looking for an excuse im fucked off at the mo fuck the pakis … i just think we shud burn the cunts now!!”

Joint statement

The full text of the joint statement by the aforementioned British Sikh and Hindu organisations condemning the EDL is as follows; the signatories so far also include the largest Sikh temple outside India, along with a number of other prominent Sikh and Hindu temples, numerous Sikh councillors, and a Member of Parliament:

We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned by the rise in fascism, Islamophobia, anti-semitism and racism. The English Defence League (EDL) has organised events across the country, stirring up hatred, Islamophobia and racism – running riot in some cases and provoking violent attacks on Muslim, black and Asian communities and on Mosques and Mandirs (Hindu temples).

Alongside this the British National Party (BNP) has received unprecedented electoral support for a fascist organisation in Britain.

They are using the old tactics of ‘divide and rule’ and are trying to divide the Asians by isolating the Muslim community. Furthermore, some misguided Sikh youth are letting themselves to be used by the EDL while a Sikh man has disgracefully joined the BNP. These people are helping to spread mistrust within our communities and we whole heartedly condemn their actions.

At a time of economic crisis with mass unemployment and impending deep public spending cuts – if the racists are allowed to make any further gains then we all would suffer from grave consequences. Thus we urge all Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews and people of other faiths to come together to strongly condemn the actions of these racist organisations and unite to turn back this tide of hatred.

• Sunny Singh, President, Sikh Society, Hertfordshire University
• Gurdev Kaur, President, Sikh Society, Imperial College, London
• Gulzar Singh Hanspal, Vice President, LSE Sikh-Punjab Society, London School of Economics
• B. S. Virk, President, Sikh Society,University College London (UCL)
• Jasdeep Singh, President, Sikh Society, Westminster University
• Surinder Singh Purewal, Gen. Sec., Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Southall
• Balvindar Singh, Vice President, British Sikh Council, U.K.
• Harmander Singh, Principal Advisor, Sikhs In England (SIE)
• Teja Singh, Gen. Sec., Sikh Missionary Society (U.K.)
• Jaspal Singh Bhamra, Gen. Sec., Ramgarhia Sabha, Southall
• Varinder Singh, Spokesperson, Turban Campaign
• Harsev Singh Bains, National Gen. Sec., Indian Workers Association (G.B.)
• Umesh Sharma, Chairman, Hindu Temple Trust, Southall
• Pyara Lal Sohi, President, Siri Guru Valmik Sabha, Southall
• Sarswati Sharma, Cultural Sec., Vishwa Hindu Mandir, Southall
• Balwindar Singh Rana, Spokesperson, Unite Against Fascism
• Virendra Sharma, M.P.
• R. Sansarpuri, Councillor, Hillingdon
• Darshan Singh Gurm, General Secretary, Singh Sabha London East Barking & Seven Kings.
• R. Singh, Spokesperson, Mata Sahib Kaur Sikh Academy, Newbury Park, Ilford.
• Gurcharan Singh, Councillor, Ealing Southall
• Gurjeev Nandra, President, Kings College London Sikh Society.
• Councillor Lakhbir Singh (Former Mayor of Luton), Labour Party, Luton
• Councillor Gurdial Bhamra, London Borough of Redbridge
• Councillor Balvir Sond, Hounslow West Ward
• Councillor Bally Singh, Coventry City Council
• Councillor Harjinder (Joe) Singh Naitta, Blagreaves Ward – Derby
• Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, Birmingham
• Siri Dasmesh Sikh Temple, Birmingham
• Gurdwara Baba Sang ji, Birmingham
• Gurdwara Singh Sabha Akaal Darbar, Birmingham
• Shri Ravidass Dhawan, Birmingham
• Ramgharia Sikh Temple (Graham St.), Birmingham
• Amarbeer Singh Gill, President, Royal Holloway, University of London Sikh Society
• Saint Soldier, singer, Vancouver, British Columbia
• Amritpal Singh Burmy & Kulraj Singh Burmy (Tigerstyle), musicians, UK
• Taz (Stereo Nation), singer, Solihull, West Midlands
• Councillor Hardial Singh Rai, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham
• Councillor Pavitar Kaur Mann, Slough Borough Council
• Jagjit Singh, singer, Indian ghazal maestro
• Professor Gurharpal Singh, Department of Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham

The EDL are planning a large demonstration in Luton on Saturday 5th February 2011. The EDL’s leader (and ex-BNP member & convicted criminal) “Tommy Robinson” aka Stephen Yaxley Lennon was interviewed by Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight earlier this week (video available on Youtube) and he admitted that he is now opposed to Islam in general, not just extremist interpretations of the religion.

The EDL’s previous claims to be opposed “only to militant Islam” are further thrown into question by the fact that, for example, in October 2010 they held a large demonstration in Leicester, a city where the majority of British Asians are actually Gujarati Hindus. Furthermore, the rally was held during Navratri, a major annual Hindu festival which is of particular importance to Gujarati Hindus and which occurs just a couple of weeks before Diwali itself. I expect an “anti-Islam” rally by the EDL outside the Hare Krishna temple in Watford is next; and yes, I’m obviously being sarcastic, but you get my point.

Sikhism’s Guru Gobind Singh versus the EDL’s Guramit “Singh”

On Newsnight, Guramit was shown to be poring over numerous out-of-context quotes from the Quran along with openly referring to Islam as “evil”. Since Guramit was also visibly wearing a ‘kara’ – the steel bangle which, like Guramit’s surname “Singh”, is a direct historical legacy of the formation of the Khalsa in 1699 by the 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh — perhaps Guramit’s time would be better spent researching Sikhism’s actual views on Islam, Muslims, and Allah.

Suitable starting points would include the fact that the foundation stone of the Golden Temple in Amritsar was laid by a Muslim saint upon the invitation of the Sikh Guru at the time, on land granted to the Sikhs by a Muslim emperor; the architecture of the Golden Temple itself was specifically designed to reflect a pluralistic, multi-faith ethos, open to all, and symbolising both the unity of God irrespective of what name people call their deity by and the unity of mankind irrespective of what religious affiliation people may identify themselves by; “Allah” and Muslims are explicitly included. Or the fact that the 6th Sikh Guru Hargobind, who began the process of militarising the Sikhs by raising a standing army and whose successor provided military assistance to the Mughal crown prince Dara Shukoh, also had a mosque built for the ordinary Muslims who had settled in the town he’d founded in Punjab; the mosque was recently renovated by a joint project in India consisting of Sikh and Muslim volunteers; considerable assistance was provided by the Sikh group known as “Nihangs”, who historically formed the most dedicated professional soldiers of the 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh’s Khalsa army.

Other examples include the fact that the Sikh scriptures, the Guru Granth Sahib, include numerous hymns originally written by Muslims along with Islamic names for God such as “Allah”. Or the fact that the final version of the Guru Granth Sahib was compiled by Guru Gobind Singh, who was also responsible for fully militarising the Sikh population and creating the Khalsa; the Guru Granth Sahib condemns bigotry and extremism (religious or otherwise), but Guru Gobind Singh did not add a single word disparaging “Allah” or attacking Muslims en masse or denigrating Islam as a whole. Or the fact that all of the Sikh Gurus had numerous Muslim allies and supporters, including Guru Gobind Singh himself, whose army included senior Muslim officers and whose own life was proactively saved by several Muslims during one of the very worst periods he ever experienced in his lifetime. After the death of the fanatical Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, Guru Gobind Singh provided military assistance to one of Aurangzeb’s more liberal sons during the war of succession and played a pivotal role in facilitating the prince’s victory, for which the new Mughal emperor – Bahadur Shah I – subsequently publicly honoured Guru Gobind Singh with the formal title “Pir-i-Hind”, meaning “Saint of India”.

As a stark contrast to the EDL’s bigoted views, including their spokesman Guramit “Singh’s” disgusting remarks about Islam, Muslims and Allah, Guru Gobind Singh succinctly made his own stance very clear indeed in the Akal Ustat:

“Someone calls himself a Hindu, another a Turk, someone a Shia, another a Sunni. Recognise the whole of humanity as one race……

He the One is the only God of us all: it is His Form, His Light that is diffused in all…..

The temple or the mosque are the same, the Hindu worship or the Muslim prayer are the same; all humans are the same, it is through error they appear different…..it is the one God who created all.

The Hindu God and the Muslim God are the same; let no man even by mistake suppose there is a difference.”

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh.


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Filed in: EDL,Hindu,Muslim,Religion,Sikh






39 Comments below   |  

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  1. sunny hundal

    Blogged: : British Sikh and Hindu groups release joint statement condemning EDL http://bit.ly/fUIGA4


  2. Jon Harvey

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : British Sikh and Hindu groups release joint statement condemning EDL http://bit.ly/fUIGA4


  3. cheesley

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : British Sikh and Hindu groups release joint statement condemning EDL http://bit.ly/fUIGA4


  4. Ulrike Singer-Bayrle

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : British Sikh and Hindu groups release joint statement condemning EDL http://bit.ly/fUIGA4


  5. Matt Jeffs

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : British Sikh and Hindu groups release joint statement condemning EDL http://bit.ly/fUIGA4


  6. Ali B

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : British Sikh and Hindu groups release joint statement condemning EDL http://bit.ly/fUIGA4


  7. Sarah Soyei

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : British Sikh and Hindu groups release joint statement condemning EDL http://bit.ly/fUIGA4


  8. Vijay Singh Riyait

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : British Sikh and Hindu groups release joint statement condemning EDL http://bit.ly/fUIGA4


  9. Tha Captain'

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : British Sikh and Hindu groups release joint statement condemning EDL http://bit.ly/fUIGA4


  10. 1st Ethical CT

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : British Sikh and Hindu groups release joint statement condemning EDL http://bit.ly/fUIGA4


  11. Bored London Gurl

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : British Sikh and Hindu groups release joint statement condemning EDL http://bit.ly/fUIGA4


  12. boredlondongurl

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : British Sikh and Hindu groups release joint statement condemning EDL http://bit.ly/fUIGA4


  13. debsalini

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : British Sikh and Hindu groups release joint statement condemning EDL http://bit.ly/fUIGA4


  14. Hitesh Tailor

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : British Sikh and Hindu groups release joint statement condemning EDL http://bit.ly/fUIGA4


  15. Jane Phillips

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : British Sikh and Hindu groups release joint statement condemning EDL http://bit.ly/fUIGA4


  16. Naadir Jeewa

    Reading: British Sikh and Hindu groups release joint statement condemning EDL: A number of the largest Sikh and … http://bit.ly/eUWFj9


  17. XL Radio - Canada

    “@turbancampaign: Sikh Community continues to condemn the English Defence League! http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/11633”


  18. MyhalalLDN

    Fantastic joint statment released by British Sikh and Hindu groups condemning EDL http://bit.ly/fUIGA4 > a must read.


  19. earwicga

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  20. Leon Green

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  21. 'oph

    RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : British Sikh and Hindu groups release joint statement condemning EDL http://bit.ly/fUIGA4


  22. Sarita

    RT @sunny_hundal: UK Sikh & Hindu groups release statement against EDL http://t.co/Uhk4JqZa – final part shows multifaith ethos of Sikhism


  23. Sam Cam

    RT @sunny_hundal: UK Sikh & Hindu groups release statement against EDL http://t.co/Uhk4JqZa – final part shows multifaith ethos of Sikhism




  1. Rumbold — on 3rd February, 2011 at 9:22 am  

    Jai:

    While it is good that Hindu and Sikh organisations are condemning the EDL, as the EDL is trying to split Hindus and Sikhs from Muslims, a fair number of ‘mainstream’ Hindus and Sikhs are anti-Muslim; in my narrow circle I know three Hindu and Sikh girls who have been cut off by their families for dating/marrying Muslims. It would be nice to see these organisations attempt to tackle this bigotry too (which is, as you point out, against the teachings of the Gurus).

  2. damon — on 3rd February, 2011 at 2:45 pm  

    I don’t think the EDL deserve this amount of attention.
    They are what they are and anyone can make a judgement on them. I doubt many religious people are going to be joining the EDL. There is no need to fear them either.

    So they get a stage army up for a day every couple of months. Big deal. They are just lumpen white working class for the most part. Thick blokes, but relatively harmless.
    And I mean ‘relatively’ of course.
    Not as bad as the yobs who use knives and rob people for example.
    They are obnoxious in their views, but not worth worring about, is my opinion.

    The Jeremy Paxman interview on Newsnight was entertaining I thought.
    The EDL leader can’t help being thick. It’s not really his fault.

  3. Awakening Tempest — on 3rd February, 2011 at 3:53 pm  

    This country has seen the rise and fall of these racist and fascist groups, and we have morally taken the highest ground in rejecting their views and ideologies. I remember a decade ago the growing alarm of National Front (NF) seems to cut up the United Kingdom but now NF’s are hardly seen – admittedly they have become part of other groups (BNP and EDL) but exactly my point – it is hard for them to sustain their views for long before they are at it themselves.

    This country is made up of people of multi-faiths, colour and ethnicity – these no good racism slugs simply are here to cause tension and problems.

    Yes there is a tension between, Sikh’s, Muslims and Hindu’s and between Pakistani, Indians and Sri-Lankens but I’m sure these people can see through their differences and tackle the racists who pray on one particular kind to the next – first it was the black now the Muslims – who’s next.

  4. pete — on 3rd February, 2011 at 7:48 pm  

    good article

  5. leon — on 3rd February, 2011 at 8:08 pm  

    @ Rumbold,

    I’m not sure why you’re raising this now, if I didn’t know you I’d say your comment looked like spite at best and at worst an attempt to spike the conversation.

    There are issues within the Sikh and Hindu communities but there is also some very good work done within those communities as Jai has rightly shown here.

    We need to support them when they’re doing right, and put pressure on them when they are doing wrong, but doing both at the same time just confuses the issue at hand, and sadly plays right into the hands of fascists and rightwing nut jobs like the EDL.

  6. earwicga — on 3rd February, 2011 at 8:28 pm  

    What Leon said.

    Thanks for letting us know Jai. Good work.

  7. Rumbold — on 3rd February, 2011 at 9:52 pm  

    Leon:

    So groups release a statement condemning an Islamaphobic group. Good. I then wonder what they are going to do to challenge Islamaphobia in the wider Sikh and Hindu communities. That seems a reasonable point given the wider battle against anti-Muslim prejudice.

  8. KJB — on 3rd February, 2011 at 10:55 pm  

    Leon:

    And your comment looks like the most laughable naivety.

    There are issues within the Sikh and Hindu communities but there is also some very good work done within those communities as Jai has rightly shown here.

    I’m sorry, where is the evidence of ‘work being done’? Sikhism is a very progressive religion, yes, but there ARE far too many people in the community (and among Hindus) who are virulently anti-Muslim, and putting a few names to a statement doesn’t change that. I could see my father being involved in something like this, when I have heard the most unbelievable anti-Muslim comments from him and others.

    We need to support them when they’re doing right, and put pressure on them when they are doing wrong, but doing both at the same time just confuses the issue at hand, and sadly plays right into the hands of fascists and rightwing nut jobs like the EDL.

    These kinds of statements infuriate me. They are, and have always been, used to silence legitimate criticism of movements. This exact argument was used by Indian nationalists to defuse the nascent women’s movement during the fight for independence.

    Your patronising ‘we’ does not speak for me. This site used to be about challenging the community leader idea – most of these people are basically community leaders and while it is nice to see them make this statement, I would again ask what they are actually doing to challenge all-too-common communal prejudices.

    Frankly, it says a lot to me that these Sikhs and the Hindus have had to release this statement in the first place.

  9. damon — on 4th February, 2011 at 9:53 am  

    This thread is either going to be interesting, or it’s going to be dull because people are too cautious and sit on their hands.

    I can guess which way it will go. Hopefully I’m wrong.

  10. Suburban Alliance — on 4th February, 2011 at 9:58 am  

    @KJB
    how do I do the red writing on my computer?
    Thank you.

  11. Rumbold — on 4th February, 2011 at 10:39 am  

    Thanks KJB. good points.

    Suburban Alliance:

    You use blockquotes. Use this symbol ‘< ' followed by 'blockquote' then '>‘ (all together, without the quote marks) before the first word at the end of what you want to highlight, do the same, but put a forward slash ‘/’ in front of ‘blockquote’, after the ‘>’.

  12. Leon — on 4th February, 2011 at 2:47 pm  

    KJB, I’ll give your comment the due consideration when

    a) you address me with less of the snide attitude
    b) you do more than hurl insults

    I’ve no idea what happened to you but your attitude is uncalled for.

    You know full well that I know just as well as anyone about the issues therein (as we’ve actually discussed more than once and at least on one occasion face to face); I have not said they shouldn’t be challenged I’ve taken issue with Rumbold’s clearly puzzling attempts at ‘whatabouttery’. PP has always been that as much as the so called community ‘leaders’.

  13. Leon — on 4th February, 2011 at 2:49 pm  

    Anyway, seeing as Rumbold’s momentarly abdicated his moderator status can I ask people to at least attempt to stay on topic?

  14. Suburban Alliance — on 4th February, 2011 at 3:06 pm  

    Like this

  15. Rumbold — on 4th February, 2011 at 3:09 pm  

    Leon:

    Shame you cannot respond to KJB’s comment. It might shed some light on your refusal to allow criticism of Islamaphobia in Sikh and Hindu communities if ‘community leaders’ say something nice.

    Suburban Alliance:

    Well done.

  16. Jai — on 4th February, 2011 at 4:45 pm  

    Leon, Earwicga, Pete — Thank you for your positive responses.

    Leon, excellent points in #5 and also in #12. I completely agree with you, and am therefore now closing this thread.

    *****************************************************************

    Updated on 11 March 2011: Multiple Sikh temples in Birmingham have formally expressed their support for the joint statement condemning the EDL. The main article above has therefore been amended accordingly. The temples involved are the following:

    • Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha
    • Siri Dasmesh Sikh Temple
    • Gurdwara Baba Sang ji
    • Gurdwara Singh Sabha Akaal Darbar
    • Shri Ravidass Dhawan
    • Ramgharia Sikh Temple (Graham St.)

    The Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha is headed by ‘Bhai Sahib’ Mohinder Singh, who was previously discussed on Pickled Politics here: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/9147 and here: http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/7999 . The Sikh temple involved is one of the largest and most influential in the UK. Bhai Sahib himself is one of the most senior and respected Sikh figures outside India, and has direct links with the global Sikh authorities at the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar. His group has also been given an award by the Queen for its exemplary humanitarian services.

    Updated on 2 June 2011: Several further high-profile Sikh signatories have recently added their support to the joint statement condemning the EDL. The main article above has therefore been amended accordingly. The latest signatories are the following:

    • Amarbeer Singh Gill, President, Royal Holloway, University of London Sikh Society
    • Saint Soldier, singer, Vancouver, British Columbia
    • Amritpal Singh Burmy & Kulraj Singh Burmy (Tigerstyle), musicians, UK
    • Taz (Stereo Nation), singer, Solihull, West Midlands
    • Councillor Hardial Singh Rai, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham
    • Councillor Pavitar Kaur Mann, Slough Borough Council
    • Jagjit Singh, singer, Indian ghazal maestro.

    Updated on 24 June 2011: A leading Sikh academic has added his support to the joint statement condemning the EDL. The main article above has therefore been amended accordingly:

    • Professor Gurharpal Singh, Department of Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham.

    Last year, Professor Singh authored a report in conjunction with the interfaith think-tank Faith Matters warning about the BNP’s identical “divide & rule” tactics targeting Sikhs and Muslims. Professor Singh was interviewed by BBC West Midlands radio on 19 June 2011 and was asked for his thoughts on the issue of the EDL’s Guramit “Singh” and his potential excommunication. Some extracts are reproduced below:

    BBC: “It’s quite interesting what Guramit had to say in that short clip that we heard of his half an hour chat with Steve Dyson. And he actually said that “well actually, I can’t be excommunicated because I’m not a you know – Amritshak Sikh, not an initiated Sikh”. Does he have a point there or can you?”

    Professor Singh: “He does have a point in a sense that you know some of these scriptures in the Sikh code of conduct apply to the baptised Sikhs. However, there is also a broader recognition that the Sikh community is much greater than just the baptised community. I mean it all relates to a definition of “who is a Sikh?”. Most religions, the orthodox or baptised are a very small section, the vast majority of Sikhs are not baptised. And so, the process of excommunication in this instance or in this case would relate to social ostracization or disassociation. So, if somebody is bringing as this is the case disrepute on the Sikh community or he seems to be bringing disrepute on the Sikh community – a literal interpretation of the code of the conduct would I fear will not hold. I think that’s rather simplistic of Guramit Singh.”

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