26th October, 2011

Happy Diwali

by Jai at 8:00 am    

Pickled Politics would like to wish our Sikh and Hindu readers a very Happy Diwali.

Hindus around the world celebrate Diwali (the “festival of lights”) for a range of reasons, most popularly to commemorate the return of the victorious Hindu deity Rama to the city of Ayodhya, as described in the Ramayana. The inhabitants of the city decorated it with lamps to celebrate Rama’s return. The festival symbolises the triumph of good over evil.

Sikhs celebrate Diwali to commemorate the return of the 17th century Sikh Guru Hargobind to Amritsar after he had been imprisoned for political reasons. The Guru had eventually negotiated the simultaneous release of 52 imprisoned kings; his arrival in Amritsar coincided with Diwali, and the overjoyed population adorned the city with lights to celebrate his return. You can see a photo of modern-day Diwali celebrations at the Golden Temple in Amritsar at the top of this article. Guru Hargobind’s supporters included Mian Mir, the Muslim saint who had laid the foundation stone of the Golden Temple and was later the main religious teacher of the Mughal crown prince Dara Shukoh.

The Golden Temple’s architecture symbolises the core Sikh principles of the unity of God irrespective of the name people call their deity by, and the inherent unity & equality of mankind irrespective of people’s religious background. Like the other 9 Sikh Gurus, Guru Hargobind himself embodied these principles and therefore had a mosque built for the Muslim population of the town he’d founded in Punjab (the mosque was recently renovated by a major joint Sikh-Muslim project in India). Guru Hargobind was also responsible for initiating the militarisation of the Sikh population by raising a standing army, and for founding the Akal Takht, the temporal seat of Sikh authority which now forms part of the Golden Temple complex.

Some suitable music to mark the occasion:

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Filed under: Hindu,Religion,Sikh
16th October, 2011

Jagjit Singh – a tribute

by guest at 5:51 pm    

This is a guest post by Parvinder Singh.

The music legend Jagjit Singh sadly passed away on Monday in the Indian city of Mumbai. He was 70 years of age and had died of a brain hemorrhage. Like myself, millions had grown up with his music and songs. Many of them he had earlier sung with his beautiful and talented wife, Chitra Singh. Over the years though, the couple have had to endure horrific tragedies, particularly in relation to the deaths of their son and daughter. That pain and loss would cast a shadow on much of Singh’s compositions.

Years ago, I had the pleasure of seeing Jagjit Singh perform live in London and was immediately captivated by his soft and warm voice and his take on the Ghazal, the musically form of Urdu ‘shayari’ or poetry. Without realising it, he had brought alive the words of the 19th Century poet Mirza Ghalib like no one before him. Such was his impression on me then, that I began to learn to read the Urdu script so to understand fully what was being said.

Yet Jagjit Singh was no ordinary singer from the subcontinent. He crossed borders and faiths in his quest to bring poetry to ordinary folk. From the Urdu verse and the Punjabi poetry of Shiv Kumar Batalvi, to the Punjabi Tappe, Hindu Bhajans and Sikh Shabads. Before his untimely death, he was in the middle of a tour with renowned Pakistani ghazal legend, Ghulam Ali.

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22nd August, 2011

Interfaith unity from the ashes of the riots in England

by Jai at 8:00 am    

Despite all the violence and destruction that occurred across England during the recent riots, there were also some heartening developments. Most well-known, of course, is the reaction of Tariq Jahan, the inspirational father of one of the young men murdered in Birmingham as they attempted to protect the local population from the rioters. Mr Jahan’s extraordinary dignity and calls for peace on the basis of our common humanity played a huge part in preventing the situation from spiralling into even worse violence.

Tariq Jahan’s actions have effectively resulted in him becoming a national hero in Britain, and some of the most moving articles have come from unexpected sources such as The Telegraph and the Daily Mail. The outpouring of support and praise for Mr Jahan has included commenters who are openly expressing deep regret for their previous prejudice against Muslims.

A prayer event in Birmingham ahead of the funerals of Shazad Ali, Abdul Musavir, and Tariq Jahan’s son Haroon was attended by approximately 20,000 people, both Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and invited speakers included visitors from one of the local synagogues. An online book of condolence has also been launched by Birmingham city council.

Interfaith unity and friendship

Inspiring examples of interfaith unity and friendship also occurred across the country during the riots. For example, Sikhs were heavily involved in joint efforts to protect the local towns & cities as a whole and the associated places of worship, including the defence of mosques. Correspondingly, Muslims also volunteered to protect Sikh temples. And a joint Sikh-Muslim prayer vigil was held at the site of the murders of the young Asian Muslims in Birmingham, attended by several hundred people and involving both Sikh and Muslim prayers. A photo of the candlelit vigil is displayed at the top of this article. You can also watch an interview of Harpreet Singh, one of the Sikh organisers of the joint vigil, in the video below.

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21st June, 2011

EDL’s Guramit Singh on BBC West Midlands Radio

by Jai at 8:00 am    

The English Defence League’s “Sikh” spokesman Guramit “Singh”, who recently posted a message on Facebook publicly announcing his resignation, was interviewed by BBC West Midlands radio a few days ago. The issue of Guramit’s potential excommunication was one of the subjects mentioned during his radio interview; it was subsequently discussed in detail by a number of other programme participants, and Guramit received no support whatsoever from any of them. You can read a full transcript of the programme here.

I will highlight a number of relevant extracts below:

Guramit: “At the end of the day I’m not representing the Sikh culture – the religion…..I don’t represent Sikhs, I don’t represent Hindus, Christians, Catholics, Muslims – I don’t represent anybody apart from people who are sincere to our cause. The members of the English Defence League, we represent them and that’s all I’m here to do.”

False. Guramit deliberately uses the characteristically Sikh name “Singh” during his public activities in conjunction with the EDL, even though it’s not actually his real surname. In one of Guramit’s earlier public statements, he explicitly claimed that he considers himself a “servant of the Sikh Nation”; he also explicitly claimed that he considers the Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh scriptures) to be his “Guru” and that Sikhism has “taught him a lot”.

Guramit has also now issued multiple public statements, in writing, repeatedly claiming that the EDL are the modern-day ideological counterparts of the 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh’s historical Khalsa, and repeatedly referencing (and grossly misrepresenting) Sikh theology & history in order to justify his own actions.

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6th June, 2011

Indian Sikh superstar Jagjit Singh signs joint statement condemning EDL

by Jai at 8:00 am    

There have recently been a series of further Sikh signatories to the joint statement condemning the English Defence League and any Sikhs who join them. Examples of notable individuals who have recently publicly voiced their support are several popular UK-based Sikh musicians along with Sikh councillors such as Hardial Singh Rai (Barking & Dagenham) and Pavitar Kaur Mann (Slough).

Jagjit Singh

However, the most high-profile Sikh signatory so far has been the acclaimed Indian ghazal singer Jagjit Singh, who was recently in the UK for a major concert tour. Jagjit is extremely famous among more than a billion South Asians worldwide, and continues to have a successful career which has spanned approximately 40 years. Although he is trained in Indian classical music and also occasionally records albums of religious music, he is most famous as a ghazal maestro. In fact, he is widely regarded as the world’s greatest modern-day Indian proponent of the genre. Jagjit regularly performs at international concerts to huge audiences.

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2nd June, 2011

EDL’s “Sikh” spokesman Guramit “Singh” has suddenly resigned

by Jai at 8:00 am    

Regular readers will be aware of my recent article (Part 1, Part 2) highlighting the full scale of the English Defence League spokesman’s continuous lying in his extremely dishonest, rambling “open letter” directly addressing the numerous British Sikhs who have condemned the EDL. The next day, Guramit posted the following message on Facebook, suddenly announcing his resignation:

Readers can make up their own minds about the accuracy of the “reasons” stated for his departure, considering Guramit’s extensive track record of disingenuously being somewhat economical with the truth.

The EDL’s main website has been noticeably silent about Guramit’s resignation; there were also no tributes to (or mention of) him by the senior speakers at the EDL’s demonstration in Blackpool during the weekend. The lack of a public tribute or any words of gratitude by the EDL’s leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka “Tommy Robinson”) is also glaringly conspicuous.

However, during the past few days, Guramit’s secretary Hel Gower has posted the following “goodbye message” on Facebook. She uses some — shall we say — interesting words to describe Guramit:

Hel Gower, of course, is also on record as openly supporting the BNP and the neo-Nazi “British First Party”, as per the following screenshot from Facebook:

One of the very few honest public statements made by Guramit included the following assertion about Sikhism:

“My religion teaches that the truth will always prevail.”

Indeed it does. Ironically, it has been proven that Guramit himself was repeatedly lying his head off during his ignominious tenure with the EDL. How unfortunate for the EDL, although some would correctly describe it as poetic justice.

Update:

Guramit has posted a characteristically petulant Facebook response to my article:

It’s quite revealing about his own mentality that Guramit assumes that was what I was referring to, not to mention his embarrassingly hypersensitive reaction. And, of course, Guramit once again hypocritically accuses other people of “making up lies”.

Having said that, since Guramit has no objection to his BNP & neo-Nazi-supporting secretary openly referring to him as a “Paki” then he’s clearly taking self-abasing sycophancy to previously uncharted depths.

And once again, Guramit’s unwise public outburst betrays his ignorance of the following very pertinent advice by the late great President Abraham Lincoln:

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”

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24th May, 2011

EDL’s Guramit “Singh” continues lying in open letter to Sikhs: Part 2

by Jai at 8:00 am    

This article is a direct continuation of Part 1, which was published yesterday, and discusses further extracts from the EDL spokesman’s recent open letter to numerous British Sikhs who have condemned the EDL. Readers are therefore strongly advised to read Part 1 first before continuing below.

“One of my closest international allies is Rabbi Shiffren.”

This is the same Rabbi Shifren who has been condemned by numerous senior Jewish leaders for his anti-Muslim fanaticism, ended up having to be forcibly thrown out of a conference by five conservative rabbis after he started screaming abuse at Reverend Jesse Jackson, and is on record as making the following extremely derogatory remarks about Muslims during a speech at an EDL demonstration in October 2010: “In those so-called freedom centres, they plot to destroy and kill us. We’re still waiting for the Muslims to make peace with each other. They eat each other alive, like the dogs that they are…”

It is worth remembering that the EDL also have international links to Jewish convicted terrorists who are not only completely banned from entering Israel, but are also part of groups which the FBI have officially designated as terrorist organisations.

“A Sikh who truly understands his or her religion will understand the true message of the English Defence League. Our battle against militant Islam”

False. As a result of multiple interviews by the BBC (see here and here), Guramit is on record as publicly claiming that there is absolutely no difference between “militant Islam” and Islam in general. In fact, his public speeches at EDL rallies have repeatedly included remarks demonising Islam full-stop along with Allah, the Prophet Mohammad, and Britain’s entire Muslim population, frequently using extremely obscene language (see here, here and here). Therefore, when Guramit uses the term “militant Islam”, he means that Islam itself is by definition inherently militant.

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23rd May, 2011

EDL’s Guramit “Singh” continues lying in open letter to Sikhs: Part 1

by Jai at 8:00 am    

Further to my recent article highlighting Guramit “Singh’s” ongoing doublespeak and religious hypocrisy in his public statement responding to the excommunication ultimatum, the English Defence League’s “Sikh” spokesman has issued a very long, extremely dishonest “open letter” directly addressing the numerous British Sikh supporters & signatories of the joint statement which condemned the EDL and any Sikhs who join them. I’m not going to link to the EDL’s website directly, but if you Google “EDL open letter ideological opponents” then you’ll be able to locate the letter. Alternatively, you can read it in full via another website here.

As a Sikh myself, I’ll address a series of extracts from Guramit’s rambling letter:

“I’m writing with regard to the document you signed, a document issued to you by members of the turban campaign, something that slanders not just myself but also the English Defence League…..This is me reaching out to all those people who have been hoodwinked into believing slander from the ideological opponents of the EDL…..This was the turban campaigns next lie, as you can probably guess this is getting ridiculous considering that members of the turban campaign claim to represent the whole of the Sikh community, I would never claim such a thing. I only represent those who are sincere to our cause no matter what colour creed or religion”

False.

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20th April, 2011

EDL’s Guramit Singh responds to ultimatum with hypocrisy

by Jai at 8:00 am    

Further to the recent Pickled Politics article highlighting the EDL’s “Sikh” spokesman Guramit Singh’s admission of hatred towards other South Asians, some further information about Guramit himself is continuing to come to light.

Doublespeak in action

A new Youtube video focusing specifically on Guramit is an excellent compilation and definitely worth watching in full. The repeated juxtaposition of Guramit’s disingenuous assertions about the EDL compared with the ugly reality demonstrates the point particularly effectively. You can watch the video via Youtube here.

“I consider the Guru Granth Sahib to be my Guru”

In response to the recent ultimatum, Gurmait subsequently released a public statement on the EDL’s main blog declaring that he refuses to leave the EDL irrespective of the ultimatum and threatening retaliation (including making a sinister threat to involve unspecified supporters from “outside the Sikh community”) if any attempts were made to excommunicate him.

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18th April, 2011

EDL’s Guramit Singh admits hating other Asians, ridicules God of Sikhism & Islam

by Jai at 2:00 pm    

Further to the joint statement by numerous major British Sikh & Hindu temples and organisations condemning the EDL and any Sikhs who join them, followed by the recent ultimatum issued to the EDL’s “Sikh” spokesman Guramit Singh, some more facts about Guramit himself are coming to light.

“I f****** hate the Pakis”

As can be heard in the Youtube clip below, a BBC Three documentary about the EDL included audio footage of Guramit Singh secretly referring to other South Asians as “Pakis” and describing his hatred of them. Perhaps it’s time Guramit actually looked in the mirror.

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14th April, 2011

Happy Vaisakhi

by Jai at 8:00 am    

Today is Vaisakhi. In Sikhism, it commemorates the anniversary of the founding of the Khalsa in 1699 by the 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh, depicted here.

Readers may wish to refer to last year’s Pickled Politics article about Vaisakhi for a summary of the historical, ideological and theological factors involved.

Along with fully militarising the Sikh population, Guru Gobind Singh was also responsible for compiling the final version of the Sikh scriptures, the Guru Granth Sahib, which includes hundreds of sacred verses originally written by Muslims.

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Filed under: History,Religion,Sikh
4th April, 2011

EDL’s “Sikh” spokesman Guramit Singh faces excommunication by global Sikh authorities

by Jai at 9:00 am    

Further to the recent joint statement by multiple British Sikh and Hindu groups condemning the English Defence League (EDL) and any Sikhs who support them, the EDL’s “Sikh” spokesman Guramit Singh has been given an ultimatum by the Sikh signatories involved: He must publicly renounce the EDL by the end of the major Sikh festival of Vaisakhi on 14 April 2011.

Failure to do so will result in the matter being formally escalated directly to the most senior global Sikh authorities at the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar, India, who will be requested to issue an excommunication order to permanently expel Guramit Singh from the worldwide Sikh faith. As an ultimate sanction, this could result in him being formally declared a pariah to be ostracised by the world’s entire Sikh population, including being formally stripped of his right to be called a Sikh, along with being permanently banned from every Sikh temple in the world.

As confirmed by the extensive list of signatories involved, this action is endorsed by the British Sikh population, including numerous influential Sikh temples & organisations across the United Kingdom, particularly in London and Birmingham. This includes the two largest Sikh temples outside India — one of which involves the Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha, which was given an award last year by the Queen for its exceptional humanitarian activities and is run by “Bhai Sahib” Mohinder Singh, one of the most senior and respected Sikh figures outside India. Bhai Sahib was previously discussed on Pickled Politics here and here, and has been involved in interfaith bridge-building activities on an international scale, including efforts to counteract the increasing bigotry towards ordinary Muslims in Britain in recent years. Bhai Sahib was also responsible for escorting the Queen around the Golden Temple during her visit to Amritsar in the late 1990s.

In complete violation of core Sikh tenets, Guramit Singh has been heavily involved in the EDL’s persecution of ordinary Muslims en masse whilst explicitly representing himself as a Sikh and claiming to be acting in the name of Sikhism, including deliberately modifying & grossly distorting sacred verses by the Sikh Gurus in order to “inspire” EDL members present during his foul-mouthed public speeches demonising Muslims, Islam and the Prophet Mohammad. Guramit Singh’s excommunication would therefore be entirely in line with historical precedents during the time of the Sikh Gurus along with the temporal authority permanently bequeathed to the Khalsa by the 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh. As recently discussed on Pickled Politics, it has also been confirmed that one of the EDL’s founders is a convicted criminal for downloading child pornography, and that the EDL itself has multiple links to international terrorists.

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11th March, 2011

EDL’s Guramit Singh will not be charged

by Rumbold at 9:35 pm    

Varinder Singh of the ‘Sikhs against the EDL’ campaign has alerted me to the fact that Guramit Singh (sometimes called Amit Singh) will not be charged over anti-Muslim comments made in a December speech. Guramit Singh is the EDL’s most high profile minority figure. A reminder of what he said in that speech:

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 ‘Sikhs against the EDL’ campaign was disappointed that Guramit Singh was not charged. As Varinder Singh put it:

It’s a real shame that an individual like Guramit Singh can get away with saying just about anything and bringing our community into disrepute. At the Luton demonstration against the EDL there was a very strong message sent from the Sikh community that he (Guramit Singh) is an embarrassment and should be locked up.

Whilst I support this campaign, as it is good to see Sikhs and Hindus standing up to the EDL, I am glad that Guramit Singh was not charged. Like Sunny, I take a robust view on free speech and protest, and I don’t see saying nasty things about a book or a group as worthy of prosecution. More than this, it would only turn Guramit Singh into a martyr, giving him a sanctity that his hate-filled bigotry does not deserve.

Filed under: EDL,Sikh
7th February, 2011

Sikh counter-EDL protests

by Rumbold at 8:17 am    

At the recent EDL march (ably covered by Rowenna Davis and Matthew Taylor), a Sikh anti-EDL contingent was out in force, building on the recent joint statement from a number of Hindu and Sikh organisations condemning the EDL’s anti-Muslim bigotry. Rowenna Davis and Matthew Taylor, reporting at the march, noted that:

The EDL and police had predicted a turnout of between 5,000 and 7,000, but as the marchers arrived in St George’s Square in the town centre just after 1pm, it appeared that no more than 3,000 had turned out. Despite the smaller numbers there were minor scuffles at the train station as anti-racist protesters tried to prevent EDL supporters getting off trains.

More than 2,000 police officers from forces across the south of England escorted the EDL march from the station into the centre of Luton. Some fireworks and bottles were thrown, shops and businesses in the town were closed and petrol stations had been boarded up in what one resident compared to a “war zone”.

The Sikh contingent was part of a large group organised by UAF:

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Filed under: Current affairs,EDL,Sikh
3rd February, 2011

British Sikh and Hindu groups release joint statement condemning EDL

by Jai 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!!”

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22nd December, 2010

EDL’s Sikh spokesman arrested

by Rumbold at 7:39 pm    

Guramit Singh (sometimes called Amit Singh) has been arrested today by Cambridgeshire police on suspicion of “intentionally causing religiously aggravated harassment alarm or distress, under section four of the public order act 1986.” following a speech on December 11th. Mr. Singh is perhaps the most high-profile non-white member of the English Defence League (EDL), and has been in trouble before, after boasting on his Facebook page about his 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!!

After that controversy he apologised, claiming he only hated militant Muslims. Was his apology sincere? It seems unlikely, given his latest remarks. Richard Bartholomew has an extract from his speech (available on YouTube):

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.

Filed under: EDL,Sikh
14th December, 2010

The ‘model minority’ issue

by Rumbold at 10:41 am    

One of the Daily Mail’s main stories today concerns a new study which examines what they call “the lifestyle of a typical Middle Briton.” This study looked at a number of different factors to produce a picture of a typical middle class household. The Daily Mail’s take on it was interesting, as it headlined the piece:

How Sikhs and Hindus became the bedrock of middle Britain

The actual article spends very little time on this, but it is telling that the Daily Mail chose such a headline, which suggests a clear ‘endorsement’ of Sikhs and Hindus, and recognition that you can be British without being white. This should be all the more welcome coming only months after the same paper said that second and third generation British Asians couldn’t be considered British.

There are a few problems here though. The main one is that such an approach once again resorts to stereotyping. Not in a negative way with regards Hindus and Sikhs, but in a way that lumps them all into one group: both religions contain masses of very different individuals, from professors to convicts, so to suggest they form a monolithic group is wrong.

This idea feeds into the notion of the ‘model minority’, which is difficult to tackle because it is viewed in a positive way. Often applied to Sikhs (amongst others), the notion of a ‘model minority’ suggests a well-integrated, hard-working ethnic/religious group whom few have a bad word to say about it. For many first generation immigrants who experienced severe racism in the 1960s and 1970s, being in such a group is seen as a great advantage, and understandably so.

The problem with this though is twofold: Firstly it encourages members of that group and those dealing with this group to view them as a single monolithic block, which discourages individualism and perpetuates the old colonial mentality of ethnic groups being apart from mainstream society. Secondly it leads to competition between different minority groups, who use the praise given to them as a ‘model minority’ as a way of showing that their ‘community’ is superior to other ones. In this case, that would mean the Muslims. Some white people will make the same comparisons, leading to bigotry against groups seen to not be model minorities, rather than treating people in those groups as individuals.

Filed under: EDL,Hindu,Muslim,Sikh
5th November, 2010

Happy Diwali

by Jai at 8:30 am    

Today is Diwali, popularly known as the “Festival of Lights”.

It is celebrated by Sikhs and Hindus (often jointly), although the historical origins of the festivals in their respective religions are different. In Sikhism, the festival commemorates the return of the 6th Sikh Guru Hargobind to the city of Amritsar after his imprisonment in Gwalior Fort by the Mughal emperor Jahangir, as the Golden Temple along with the whole city had been decorated with lamps to celebrate the Guru’s return. Sikhs also refer to Diwali as Bandi Chhor Diwas, meaning “Day of the Release of Prisoners”, as the Guru had arranged for 52 royal political prisoners to be simultaneously freed from the fort. A photograph of Diwali celebrations at the Golden Temple complex a couple of years ago is displayed at the top of this article.

North Indian Hindus in general celebrate Diwali primarily to mark the return of the Hindu deity Rama to the city of Ayodhya after his victory over Ravan, as described in the Ramayana. Many Hindus also celebrate the festival for a range of other reasons, including offering prayers to the Hindu goddess Lakshmi so that she blesses their families with prosperity during the following year. Public decorations of lights to mark the occasion are common worldwide wherever there are sizeable Hindu populations. Incidentally, last year Barack Obama was the first US president to personally celebrate Diwali in the White House.

Some suitable music:

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Filed under: Hindu,Religion,Sikh
25th August, 2010

Organisation urges British Sikhs to help Pakistan aid effort

by Sunny at 11:07 pm    

Got this from the Network of Sikh Organisations today, thought it was worth sharing:

Yesterday, Brenden Gormley, Head of the Disasters Emergency Committee commented that generous donations by the British public to flood relief in Pakistan were shaming politicians across the world. His words remind us how political concerns, like those over terrorism or corruption, can all too easily trump basic humanitarian considerations.

The suffering evokes poignant memories for many Sikhs The floods are in the land of the birth of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh faith; a land that saw the forceful expulsion of their grandparents during the partition of the sub-continent 63 years ago this month, in a frenzy of religious hate. Despite this, most Sikhs see it as their basic religious duty to help. Many Sikhs like others have contributed generously to the aid effort, while others are helping in Pakistan. But for some, the hurt of the past remains. So how do we break the chains of history to look to the needs of the present?

For Sikhs, the answer lies in two incidents. The first occurred a little over 300 years ago, when the infant Sikh community was defending itself from attack by the Mughal rulers. . In a particularly fierce battle, a Sikh water carrier called Kanyia was seen supplying water to the enemy wounded Angry Sikh soldiers dragged him before Guru Gobind Singh. The Guru asked if the charge was true. The bewildered Kanyia replied that it was, and said that he was simply doing what the teachings of Sikhism required him to do: look to those suffering whoever they might be. The delighted Guru embraced him, calling him ‘bhai’ or brother and gave him medicines and bandages to continue his good work.

The second incident lies in the experience of the war between India and Pakistan in 1971 when Punjabi Pakistani prisoners of war and their Punjabi Sikh captors embraced each other and swapped stories like long lost brothers. The incident showed the utter absurdity of man made borders drawn on maps to divide communities on the basis of politically induced communal fear and hate. Yet this has been done over and over again, and is still being done around the world today.

Helping those in need is not only a basic human duty, but here it can also play a small part in boosting confidence, trade and prosperity. More importantly, it can give a lie to the myth that people of different faiths cannot live together.

DEC donate page

Filed under: Organisations,Sikh
21st August, 2010

The “Ground Zero Mosque”: Ignorance, Prejudice and Historical Precedents – Part 2

by Jai at 7:00 pm    

(This article is an immediate continuation of Part 1. Readers are therefore strongly advised to read that part first before continuing below).

Indian history and “the Sikh 9/11”

Firstly, during India’s “Great Mughal” era, the 6th Sikh Guru actually had a mosque built for the ordinary Muslims who had settled in the town he had founded in Punjab – despite the fact that his own father had been severely tortured over a period of several days upon the orders of the Mughal emperor Jahangir, and ultimately died of his horrific injuries. In fact, that same mosque was very recently jointly renovated by Sikh and Muslim volunteers in India as part of a major restoration project. There are even mosques in Amritsar itself, the “holy city” of the Sikhs. It’s certainly a far cry from Newt Gingrich’s “no mosques until there are churches in Saudi Arabia” rhetoric, given that he’s effectively recommending that the United States should duplicate fundamentalist Wahhabi Saudi Arabian attitudes towards places of worship; furthermore, the notion of holding your own country’s citizens hostage to – and penalising them for – the actions of a foreign government because they happen to be affiliated with superficially the same religion (despite being from very different “denominations”) isn’t just irrational and barbaric, it’s also morally bankrupt.

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7th July, 2010

Sikh centre given an award by the Queen

by Jai at 5:01 pm    

The Queen has recently given the Sikh Nishkam Centre in Birmingham an award for its exemplary voluntary services to society.

The group running the centre is headed by “Bhai Sahib” Mohinder Singh, whom I previously discussed in the “Music of Unity/Politics of Division” article here (pictured).
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2nd July, 2010

No turban searches at airports

by Rumbold at 4:14 pm    

Sikhs travelling through British airports will no longer have their turbans unravelled by airport staff if the metal detector goes off. It is not clear how many Sikhs were actually subject to this procedure, but the changes followed a campaign against the practice:

A spokesperson for Birmingham International Airport said: ‘On Thursday the Department for Transport advised all UK airports to continue using the previous methods of screening religious headwear, which eliminates the need to carry out hand searches. We have reacted accordingly.’

Sikhs who set off alarms at airport body scanners will now have their turban scanned by a hand held wand, and will only be subjected to searches by hand if metal is detected in the turban.

This seems a sensible compromise to me, as it eliminates the need for turban removal unless there is metal contained within the turban, which there shouldn’t be.

This ruling also drew comment from Sikhs in England, a Sikh organisation which suggested that Sikhs were being unfairly targeted (yet failed to provide any evidence of this), with the implication that security staff should focus on Muslims:

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Filed under: Current affairs,Sikh
23rd April, 2010

Turbans banned from some police operations

by Sunny at 2:43 pm    

Not the biggest news around, but here you go (via Sarah):

Sikh police officers who wear turbans cannot join firearms teams, following a ruling from the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo).
Officers can choose instead to wear a smaller head covering known as a patka, which will fit under a helmet.

The Acpo guidance follows consultations with the Home Office and a range of police associations representing Sikhs.

Sounds sensible to me frankly, can anyone see the problem with this?

Filed under: Organisations,Sikh
13th April, 2010

Happy Vaisakhi

by Jai at 4:11 pm    

“When I have taught the sparrow to fight the hawk, when a single individual can challenge 125,000, only then will I deserve the name Gobind Singh.”

The Sikh festival of Vaisakhi commemorates the creation of the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699, symbolising a range of humanitarian ideals and values, including the necessity to fearlessly stand up for universal human rights focusing on the inherent unity, equality and dignity of mankind irrespective of “race”, religious affiliation, or gender.

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Filed under: History,Religion,Sikh
8th April, 2010

Kamal Nath ambushed

by Rumbold at 8:48 pm    

Indian minister and suspect in the Sikh massacres of 1984 Kamal Nath was served with papers when he visited America:

A journalist from a local daily handed Nath a photocopy of the summons moments before a process server knocked on the doors of the New York consulate with the legal documents. Nath has been issued a court summons in a civil suit filed against him by Jasbir Singh and Mahinder Singh on behalf of the New York-based Sikhs for Justice. Nath said he was “appalled” by the allegations and denied any wrongdoing.

Although Mr. Nath has not been convicted of anything, and is unlikely to face trial in America, it should provide a (temporary) shock to those in power who are still shielded from prosecution.

(Hat-tip: Dalbir)

Filed under: Sikh
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