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Rise in Extremism or Rise in Hysteria? Canadian Sikhs Setting the Record Straight

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by Archived_Member16, Apr 25, 2010.

  1. Archived_Member16

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    Rise in Extremism or Rise in Hysteria?
    Canadian Sikhs Setting the Record Straight


    2010-04-25

    OTTAWA, ONTARIO -- (Marketwire) -- 04/25/10 -- It has been a tough month for Canadian Sikhs. The festival of Vaisakhi is supposed to be a time of celebration - when Sikhs have a public opportunity to share their values and explain their faith to their fellow Canadians. Instead, numerous incidents have occurred in recent weeks shifting the focus away from the Sikh principles of equality, compassion, freedom of expression, and religious freedom. Fuelled by misinformation and irresponsible leadership, public hysteria has grown over a supposed increase in extremism in the Sikh community. Here are the myths and realities behind the current controversy.

    Myth: Extremism in the Sikh community is on the rise and is worse than it was 25 years ago.

    Reality: This myth was first perpetuated by the Government of India for its own political interests, and quickly sealed with a stamp of approval by some opportunistic politicians. There is no evidence of any rise in extremism, and politicians or media who assert otherwise should provide proof of their claims. What there has been a rise in, is the Sikh community's involvement in larger social causes. Whether raising millions of dollars for Canadian hospitals, sending volunteer teams to Haiti, setting up food kitchens to feed the homeless, or organizing blood drives for the Red Cross, Canadian Sikhs are at the forefront of social activism across the country.

    Some recent threats against Ujjal Dosanjh have been made by unknown persons claiming to be Sikh. These have been used to support the indictment that extremism is rampant and on the rise in the Canadian Sikh community. Nothing could be further from the truth. Canadian Sikhs unanimously agree that the threatening comments posted on Facebook are reprehensible and deserve unqualified condemnation. These are criminal matters that must be addressed by the police, and the perpetrators need to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

    If an entire community is to be indicted based on anonymous posts made on internet sites, then the hateful comments posted in recent weeks against the Sikh community on several Canadian news sites, could arguably be used to show a rise in racism in Canada. No doubt, in their defence, Canadians would say, nothing could be further from the truth.

    What Canadians should really be concerned about is the rise in extremism in Canadian politics. Knee jerk reactions and marginalization of visible minorities has become the flavor of the day. Whether it is proposed legislation to ban the Muslim woman's right to wear a niqab, or a call for an end to multiculturalism, or a review of "religious accommodation", these are but examples of the fall-out from the mass hysteria that is being generated in Canadian society. The Sikhs are just the most recent victims of this frenzy.

    Myth: Sikhs who support Khalistan are extremists and terrorists

    Reality: One need only to look at the case of Quebec, to know that separatism does not equal terrorism. The Bloc Quebecois which is a separatist party wishing to break Quebec away from Canada, sits in the Federal Parliament. The Parti Quebecois, another separatist party, governed Quebec for several years. No one would legitimately suggest that Quebec separatists are extremists or terrorists. Yet, the same courtesy is not extended to Sikhs who may support the right of self determination for those Sikhs living in India.

    There are many Sikhs who support the idea of an independent Sikh state, most commonly called Khalistan. As with Quebec separatism, this issue has been in existence in the Sikh community for decades (since at least the independence of India in 1947). Peacefully advocating for the right of a people to self-determination is a right protected by the United Nations, and promoted and supported (at least in the case of Quebec) by the Canadian government. Canadian Sikhs should have the same right to peacefully and legally discuss these issues.

    Myth: Recent violence in Brampton is related to extremism and Khalistan

    Reality: There is nothing to suggest that recent events in Brampton are in any way linked to each other, to extremism, or to the call for Khalistan. On April 2nd an altercation occurred at the Sikh Lehar Centre during a protest in relation to a figure in the Sikh community. A different and unrelated incident occurred on April 18th at the Guru Nanak Sikh Centre, over the control over the management of the Gurdwara. In each incident there was some unacceptable and criminal behavior by some isolated trouble-makers that resulted in violence. The matters are being investigated by the police. Khalistan had nothing to do with either incident, and the wrongful parties in both situations have been condemned by the larger Sikh community.

    Myth: India is in danger from a rise in Sikh extremism as reflected by recent warnings to the Canadian Government.

    Reality: This is a myth created by the Government of India for its own political gain. Since the early 1980`s, Sikhs in Canada have been concerned about the plight of their families and other minorities in India, and have continuously raised these human rights concerns in the international arena. Canadian Sikhs have tried to expose the continuous suppression of religious minorities across the sub-continent; the alarming rate of genetic mutations in Panjab due to the Indian government`s failure to regulate the use of pesticides; and the shocking rate of depletion of Panjab`s ground water. As the Sikh community becomes even better educated and gains in its ability to expose these abuses in India, the Indian government`s desire to marginalize and suppress the Sikhs` voices also increases.

    In February 1987 four Indian diplomats were expelled from Canada for undercover activities to destabilize Sikh diaspora. This was confirmed by no other than one of the expelled diplomats, M.K.Dhar in his book "Open Secrets". These activities continue to date. The clear bias and un-relentless attack on Canadian Sikhs is only too apparent in a recent interview with CBC Radio, by India's High Commissioner to Ottawa, Shashishekhar Madhukar Gavai. Mr. Gavai said, `` The rise of Sikh extremism anywhere is a legitimate concern for us. And I think it should be a cause of worry to Canadians as well." He went on to say, "I mean this clearly shows the mindset of these people. They are violent, they are extremists and you know they want to suppress a freedom and voices of reason..."

    Such comments from an Indian diplomat about the Canadian Sikh community are highly offensive and irresponsible. Rather than being condemned unilaterally by Canadian politicians as they should have been, some politicians have irresponsibly used these comments to score political points for personal gain. These same politicians turn to the Sikh community each election year, going on speaking tours in Sikh places of worship, in a blatant attempt to gain votes.

    Sikhs in India have suffered ongoing human rights abuses and have yet to receive justice for the massacre of thousands of Sikhs in November 1984. Several of those implicated in leading the massacre continue to hold ministerial positions in India's governing Congress Party. Before indicting Sikhs as being "extremists" who are bent on suppressing freedom and the voice of reason, Canadians should ask India to explain why it has been repeatedly identified by Amnesty International and other human rights groups as a persistent violator of basic human rights.

    Myth: There is a sense of pervading fear in the Sikh community and mainstream voices are silenced.

    Reality: If mainstream voices felt frightened and silenced, then the publication of this document would not be possible. The Sikh community feels safe, and does not feel threatened by mythical extremists. Mainstream, rational voices compose the overwhelming majority of the Sikh community. There is an ongoing push to expose and sideline the few bad apples that surface from time to time and give the Sikh community a bad name, irrespective of what political stripe they wear. Whenever irresponsible comments have been made by some isolated individuals in the Sikh community, they have been publicly denounced by the community, which loudly asserts its Sikh and Canadian values. Just because some media have failed to report these denunciations, does not mean that mainstream Sikh voices have been silenced. One need only to review the numerous press releases and statements given by mainstream Sikh organizations such as WSO over the years and in recent weeks, to understand this.

    Myth: Vaisakhi parades are hijacked by extremist and radical elements in the Sikh community

    Reality: The only people hijacking Vaisakhi parades are the opportunistic and self-serving politicians who attend them every year in an effort to gain votes and score political points. It is these few politicians making irresponsible and ill-thought statements that have once again aided in casting a shadow over Vaisakhi celebrations this year.

    Vaisakhi parades are an opportunity for Canadian Sikhs to share their faith and culture with their neighbours. Tens of thousands of people gather for parades across Canada, which are great fun, well organized and peaceful. In all the years that these parades have been held, despite numbers reaching as high as one hundred thousand attendees, there has never been even one violent incident. Thousands of people are generously fed for free over an event that lasts several hours. And when the event is over, the city streets are left cleaner than when the event started. In stark contrast, the post Stanley Cup playoff celebrations on the streets of Vancouver have posed a greater threat to public safety.



    The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of the Sikh Diaspora, as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights for all individuals, irrespective of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, and social and economic status.



    Please visit www.worldsikh.ca : www.worldsikh.ca or www.twitter.com/worldsikhorg : www.twitter.com/worldsikhorg for further information.




    Contacts:
    World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO)
    Gian Singh Sandhu
    604-341-2755
    gianssandhu@gmail.com : gianssandhu@gmail.com

    World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO)
    Balpreet Singh
    416-904-9110
    balpreetsingh@worldsikh.org : balpreetsingh@worldsikh.org
    www.worldsikh.ca : www.worldsikh.ca
     
     

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    #1 Archived_Member16, Apr 25, 2010
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  3. spnadmin

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    The question now is, how does this message get communicated to all the sectors of the public who need to hear it?

    WSO is based in Canada, and has first hand experience with events of the past 10 days and more. I am based in the mid-Atlantic US, reading about the same events from afar.

    WSO has done a great job of converging on what have seemed to me to be most of the relevant arguments. But it does no good at all if I am the one who nodding my head in agreement. There are more relevant publics and politicians who can benefit, either by exposure to a rational point of view or by knowing that their political agenda has not gone un-noticed.

    How do we get this message to them? How do we make sure that they are not indifferent to it?
     
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  4. roab1

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    As per an entry on facebook UD's grandfather was jailed by 'British India' for 'Terrorist' activities and was even 'martyred' (hanged) and his own son faced trial for assaulting a police officer in 2001 but was let off due to 'loopholes' in Law!!!!!!!


    What a hypocrite !


    BTW Guru Granth Sahib tells numerous times how bad it is to slander anyone and this 'moderate' Sikh is slandering the whole community!!!
     
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  5. ballym

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    I am not aware but how many aggression incidents have take place in Quebec? How many killings? You may say that these killings are also planted but who provides the opportunity to plant such things , if it is the fact. Is it the case in 100% of cases?
    DID anybody distribute leaflets about it during Nagar Kirtan or it just remains on web? Read by only a few?
    PEACEFUL, it must be.
    We ourselves have given the chance by declaring open threats on air. Then everything becomes linked. You know about dasam granth/ infighting of Management but not them. That is what people are exploiting by instigating trouble and maligning Sikhs.
    Bring order you own house, others will follow.
    So what should they do? Sit at home on nagar Kirtan day?
    What is the solution.
    WSO has the ability to have Gurudwara control. How many gurudwara? Sikh population identifies gurudwara as hub of activity, not some office of intellectuals.
    I have no info on this but I just gave some idea here.
    There are many organisations doing good work. In another post, T Sher Singh mentioned about some organisation initiated by Manjit S Magat. I never heard of it. Even now I do not recollect its name. Does it have a website atleast? it does not take many dollars to have a ten page website.
    My solution... do not EVER indulge in violence and call 911 for that, if required. Stay away from such possibilties. you want peaceful gurudwaras. Start a mass movement. Distribute leaflets to each sikh home.... and inform them.
    Boycott places which can not assure peace.
    Am I going too far?

     
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  6. dalbirk

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    The word 'K' was invented by INDIRA GANDHI & used by Congress to malign , kill , torture Sikhs . The new efforts are to malign diaspora Sikhs who are leading the campaign to fight against 1984 genocide , fake killings . GOI efforts are in this regard are to suppress the recent revival in Sikhs regarding 1984 . So I appeal to all Sikhs to avoid the trap called KHALISTAN because it gives open licence to brand Sikhs as unruly & terrorists while at the same time creating bad impression about them in foreign countries . We are fortunate to have internet & twitter I appeal to all likeminded Sikhs to use them to expose this PROPAGANDA of GOI , be rational , calm , well informed & most importantly together , lead this fight against GOI to achieve justice for 1984 progom victims executed entirely by Congress Party to please an IDIOT young disaster called RAJEEV GANDHI .
     
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  7. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    dalbirk ji

    I applaud the core of your message. But there is a confusing aspect to this problem, as I look at one side and then the other and then another and another side to the debate called "Khalistan." Remember I am speaking as someone coming late in life to Sikhi and who is not of Punjabi origins.

    Some see Khalistan as the natural and logical remedy to the atrocities of 1947. A homeland for Sikhs that stands for the homeland that was denied after Independence, which set the stage for what was to follow. A homeland that "never again" would see the atrocities of 1984. Others see Khalistan as a political football being used by extremists. Khalistan is a powerful call to arms. In actuality these political operators have only their own political agendas important and are manipulating the emotions of so many whose families suffered.

    Both of these scenarios can be true at the same time, however, they are inherently contradictory. How does the average person make sense of the contradictions?
     
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  8. dalbirk

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    Narayanjot Ji ,
    Things are not that smooth in India as it may seem sitting thousands of miles away in US . India is a single country right from 1947 , many separatist movements started in India in last 60 years ( most of them were started by Indira who preferred non-state actors over political opposition ) but did bring nothing other than death & destruction for its members . Whether in Kashmir , Assam , Darjeeling , Punjab , Tamils in Sri Lanka or now Maoists it brought only death , destruction , economic slide for the participants , they all followed a similar pattern , started sustained & died out very similar ways as if same story was played out again & again . Who played from which side is still not clear to this date as if they were playing a friendly match or a shadow boxing bout . Till today India is a single country , the events of 1984 were played out as we all know today were a result of Congress taking revenge for 1975 Emergency role of Akali leadership . Some dream of Sikh homeland similar to Israel or Pakistan but that is not possible without the intervention of major powers which is only US today . Do we really feel that US is ready for such intervention , secondly leadership can we name a single leader similar to Master Tara Singh today ? The third route is guns , can we win the battle with India that way , can we feel that those entrusted with guns will carry out the operation seriously , not cut any deal with GOI . Some months ago there was a seminar in which HS Phoolka was the chief speaker , in which he was to promote his book ' When a tree shook Delhi ' as well as present his views he clearly said that there is not a single serious leader he has come across as serious in his days of fighting for justice for 1984 victims . He also clearly said that Sikhs are perhaps the most negligent community today in terms of collective responsibility , there is so much greed , me ism in the community that sometimes he feels disheartened & feels like giving it all up . IMHO a fight for Khalistan is not due today as it will bring only blood & tears for the community , we must endeavour instead to preach more & more to Non-Sikhs try to make more & more Sikhs in India & worldwide , try to take Punjab out of the rot by fighting against Drugs , Alcohalism , Brahminists tendencies in Punjab , Dera Waad , Sant waad , Baba waad , Female- foeticide lack of knowledge regarding Sikh principiles, beliefs , SRM amongst general Sikhs , spread of HINDI & neglect of Punjabi amongst urban Sikhs . This is my line of the way forward for next 50 years at least . In the meantime if any other movement gains any success then Sikhs may start on that line also .
     
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  9. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    dalbirk ji

    Thank you for your detailed reply. However my question is still not answered. Anyone who has been reading the newspapers knows that India is unsettled viz upheaval, government suppression "Whether in Kashmir , Assam , Darjeeling , Punjab , Tamils in Sri Lanka or now Maoists." I read The Hindu every day and am amazed that India holds together every day.

    I know that my reply above may sound disrespectful and I am not asking in disrespect but in earnest.

    How does Khalistan become the logical remedy for atrocities against Sikhs since 1947? When at the same time we are told that proponents of Khalistan are themselves divided in terms of how they would implement the vision of Khalistan?

    Some champion the idea of Khalistan peacefully created by the UN much like Israel. (We should not of course forget that pressure had to be brought to bear on the UN through what the world saw as Zionist "terrorism." Then only did UN would act to create an israel.)

    Yet others are individuals and groups who appear to be promoting ideals that are far from "pure." Specifically they promote the creation of a Khalistan that reflects very narrow political and religious visions of Sikhism. These are visions that are not friendly to even other Sikhs. Some of these visions glorify violent means.

    That is the crux of the confusion for many people who are sincerely perplexed.
     
    #8 spnadmin, May 1, 2010
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  10. ballym

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    I just wanted to repeat these lines because that is the line we must follow for prospering our religion.
    When other religions are not facing our problem of SGPC( head body) control by politicians, why do sikh face this? How did it happen and why we are not able to correct the situation?
    In Hindu religion, do we have a governing body.... for ALL Temples of India? No
    Next.....
    If there is no such thing then what will happen if I make a Gurudwara in a city in Punjab. Most probably, SGPC will try to infiltrate in management?
    Why our sikh industrialists make Gurudwaras.... like Birla Temples all over India. of course, Birla does not have much say in their management.
    UNLESS, sikh masses and influential people take action, nothing will change.
    AND IF THEY DO.... all will CHANGE.
     
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  11. dalbirk

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    Narayanjot Ji ,
    I may put it this way , wherever there is a true Khalsa , there is Khalistan . We must try to increase the no of TRUE KHALSAS amongst Sikhs , then whole of India & finally whole of the world will become Khalistan . There is absolutely grave need to start early with young children , parents should understand the need for nurturing the going to Gurudwara , Nitnem , whole family joining for SEVA on Gurupurabs & Sundays , reading whole Guru Granth Sahib , having a Prakash of SGGS at home etc etc routines which should be part of daily life , similar to eating, drinking , sleeping & doing daily chores . For that each one of us should try to spend as much Daswandh as possible on teaching others about the basic philosophy of Sikhism , SGGS also fighting for justice for 1984 genocide victims . I have selected this way for myself spending my Daswandh to subscribe Sikh Phulwari ( SMC Ludhiana ) , Gurmat Prakash (SGPC ) , Sis-Ganj ( DSGMC ) to anyone I feel like needs the guidance of SGGS & Sikhism , rest I leave to the Guru Himself to do the Kirpa . I may suggest this to all others also .
     
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