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Pacific Australia: Gurdwara Attacked, Sikhs Appeal For Security

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
June 02, 2011

Australia: Gurdwara Attacked, Sikhs Appeal for Security

Melbourne - Jun 02, 2011

A Gurdwara in the Australian state of Victoria has been vandalized in what is believed to be a "racial" attack, sparking fears among the minority community which has appealed for greater security for the Sikhs.

Sikhs in Shepparton in northern Victoria have appealed to those who vandalized their Gurdwara to leave them alone.

"Why they're doing it we don't know and we think there's a bit of racism - I'm not sure but (there) could be," a local Sikh Kuldeep Singh was quoted as saying by ABC News today.

Security has been stepped up around the Gurdwara after recent vandalism attacks, including eggs being thrown at the building and a car smashing a fence around the structure, the report said.

"If somebody has got a problem, it would be good to talk to us but definitely we want peace and we want to send a message of peace around," he said, adding the attacks are hurtful.

Singh said it was difficult to understand as "we've got a very good reputation in the community here". "We are hardworking people, we believe in God," he noted.

In a separate incident, a Sikh boy studying in Class 11 at an outer northern Christian school in Melbourne was forced to shave off his beard, Harkirat Singh of the Sikh Federation of Australia was quoted as saying by ABC radio.

Early this week, Singh said he was contacted by the parents of the student who was forced to shave off his beard.

The Sikh Federation, according to report, said it had left the boy feeling depressed and embarrassed, and amounts to bullying.

Helen Szoke, the Equal Opportunity Commissioner, was contacted who said there was a need to be clear and wide consultation to take into account race and religious beliefs at schools.

The Victorian school has apologized for forcing the Sikh student shave off his beard against his religious beliefs.

The school's principal, who wants to be known only as Paul to protect the boy's privacy, said the teacher involved did not know the school had earlier agreed not to make the boy shave.

"Our process has brought us to the conclusion that facial hair will be permitted by the Sikh boys at the school," he was quoted as saying.

"I apologize for any harm that he might have felt or any hurt that he might have felt. That's not our intention, to cause harm to anybody," he said.

Over 100 incidents of attacks on Indians, including racial, have come to light in the last few years in Australia.

Last year, an organization, National Council of Indian Australians was formed here to secure the rights and interests of the minority community members in the country amid a series of attacks on them.

source: http://news.outlookindia.com/item.aspx?723854



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