Last weekend a confrontation took place at a Gurdwara in Leamington Spa lead by as yet unknown people who objected to meat and alcohol being consumed in a building that is associated with a local Gurdwara. In the ensuing melee old men were attacked and a visiting MP was hurt.
Let there be no doubt about this â€“ if it is found that Gurdwara revenue has been used for subsiding the consumption of meat or alcohol, money given by the local congregation for charitable and community purposes, it shows a degree of moral corruption by the committee members that will be considered as a very serious malfeasance by the Sikh community in Britain.
Gurdwaras are places of worship and peace as well as charitable missions and should not become the private fiefdom of men on power trips and these are issues that need to be dealt with urgently.
However, this situation has highlighted a worrying trend, and that is the eagerness with which some young British Sikhs are willing to use unrestricted mob violence to enforce their way. Ever since the storming of the Birmingham Rep over the play Behzti these extremists have become emboldened and speak openly on message boards of their intention to â€˜teach people lessonsâ€™ and how they are willing to give up their lives in their riots and confrontations.
It is only a matter of time, I believe, before someone is seriously wounded or killed as a result of the violence meted out by these individuals. They are utterly uncompromising and fanatical and talk openly of their ability to raise a lynch mob at short notice and travel anywhere in the country where they wish to make a show of force.
This is beginning to look like a pattern of mob violence by volatile extremists who have set themselves up on a mission to purify Sikhism of all its apostate and unorthodox practitioners. Quite apart from the violence involved and the risk of innocent people being harmed, we have to ask, where will such a mentality stop?
Attacking old men as a result of Gurdwara corruption and politics is one thing, but can we trust these users and raisers of mob violence when they say that it is not their intention to become like a gang of religious police with their judgment hanging over Sikhs in public and private life in Britain?
It goes without saying, of course, that if this kind of thing escalates and happens regularly the actions of these people will soon make Sikhism a religion in Britain synonymous with mob violence and aggressiveness, but having read the views of some of these people I come to the conclusion that this is something they do not care about.
In a final comic irony, it is often these ‘activists’ who complain and moan the loudest about the â€˜bad imageâ€™ and misrepresentation of Sikhi by the British media.
We need to think of ways for community disputes to be addressed effectively before the Sikhs of Britain are engulfed in a wave of anarchy and mob violence and self appointed vigilantes become so puffed up with their power that they destroy through their excessive zeal the peaceful and hard working image of Sikhs in Britain today as well as our community cohesion and unity.
In the meantime, for more context and exploration of this issue, please listen to this excellent documentary that was recently broadcast by BBC Radio 4 called The Birmingham Rep Riots: Behind the Scenes presented by the award winning Sikh journalist Amardeep Bassey.
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