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Sikh image ‘tarnished,’ group says

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by Archived_Member16, Aug 19, 2010.

  1. Archived_Member16

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    Sikh image ‘tarnished,’ group says

    August 19, 2010
    Amy Dempsey - THE TORONTO STAR

    Tired of being portrayed as terrorists, radicals or extremists, a group of Canadian Sikhs have set out to improve their public image.

    "The community image is tarnished," said Manohar Singh Bal, spokesperson for a newly formed Toronto-based working group on the status of Sikhs.

    "We as a community need to look at all this and say, how can we make a new beginning?"

    At a news conference Wednesday, members of the group announced their plan to produce a report they say will highlight the contributions and experiences of Canadian Sikhs.

    Bal said Canadian Sikhs have felt more discrimination in the past six months than over the last decade.

    The group traces that surge to public upset surrounding the release of the Air India inquiry’s findings in June and other recent news events they feel have linked the Sikh community as a whole to extremism.

    "I noticed particularly around incidences that brought awareness about the Sikh community in a negative light that there would be comments made to me," said Jagmeet Singh Dhaliwal, a criminal defence lawyer and community activist who spoke at the news conference.

    "[Sikhs] have a very visible identity with the turban and the beard. So it makes the community more vulnerable," Dhaliwal said.
    "Comments such as ‘radical’ or ‘extremist’ — unqualified statements of that nature — can be very inflammatory when you have a very visible minority."

    Dhaliwal, 31, said he hopes the report’s findings will help promote better understanding of the Sikh community.

    "Canadian Sikhs are a vibrant part of Canada and to understand any community you have to look at the struggles they’re facing," he said.

    The working group will ask for input fromSikh people across Canada, religious and cultural organizations, government representatives and academics.

    The report will examine the Air India inquiry’s impact, the way Sikh’s are portrayed in the media, how human rights abuses in India have impacted those who live in Canada and the Canadian government’s response to Sikh concerns.

    The working group aims to release the report in 2013.

    Satwinder Gosal, a Mississauga lawyer well connected to the Sikh community, says the media in particular is to blame.

    "There’s a general feeling that there’s been a hatchet job done on the way the [Sikh] community is being represented," he said.
    "We’ve gone many steps backwards."

    source: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/849697--sikh-image-tarnished-group-says
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