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United Sikhs UNITED SIKHS Complain To BBC Trust For Misuse Of Sikh Insignia

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The Khanda, a Sikh Religious Insignia

Questions Put to the BBC in the UNITED SIKHS letter

  1. What, if any, checks did the BBC news reporter and producer make to ascertain the nature and significance of the Khanda to the Sikh community, before it was used?
  2. What was the reason for using the Khanda in the report? Have you have used the Cross or the Crescent and Star whenever you report on Christians and Muslims committing offences?
  3. Why was it necessary to mention the Sikh religion in a crime report and why did the producer allow the link?
  4. What training does the BBC provide its staff to familiarise them with religious insignia so that there is no abuse that could lead to community tensions?
  5. Does the BBC accept that the irresponsible use of the Khanda in the said news report could increase community tensions and that it can lead to incitement of religious hatred?
  6. What measures will be taken to appease the Sikh community so that the said report, is not misconstrued by the Sikh community as a deliberate attempt to insult them?
  7. Will the BBC produce specific positive documentaries on the Sikh faith to mitigate the effect of the insulting use of the Khanda and the insulting link of the crimes to the Sikh religion?
  8. How will the BBC ensure that this and such incidents do not recur?
  9. Is the BBC prepared to publically apologise to the Sikh community, without parading the offending news item to nsure that the rape victim would not have to relive the memory of the report nor that the Sikh community would be insulted again?
London, UK - UNITED SIKHS complained today to the Chairman of the BBC Trust for the misuse of the Khanda, a Sikh religious insignia, in BBC’s news reports last week on the sentencing of three men for heinous rape crimes.

The Sikh community had been very shocked and saddened by a BBC news report, on Friday 16th Oct 2009, about a Sikh rape victim from Wales, who had suffered prolonged abuse at the hands of those she would expect to be protected by, especially from such a young age.

It was, therefore, a double blow for the Sikh community when they saw the irresponsible use, by the BBC in the same news report, of a Sikh religious insignia, the Khanda, and the suggestion that the Sikh religion was connected to the crimes.

The news report had ‘victimised’ the entire Sikh community when the BBC used the Khanda, which is no less significant than the Cross, when they showed the convicted men, whose faces were darkened to protect the identity of the rape victim.

Further, the report, by innuendo, maligned the Sikh community as it made references to the Sikh religion, which had no relevance to the rape incidents. The community felt as though the reporter was trying to link the Sikh religion to the incidents.

The Khanda is a sacred symbol that symbolizes eternity and righteousness and is commonly seen at Sikh Gurdwaras and on the Sikh flag- the Nishaan Sahib.

“What was the reason for using the Khanda in the report? Have you have used the Cross or the Crescent and Star whenever you report on Christians and Muslims committing offences?” Mejindarpal Kaur, UNITED SIKHS legal director, asked in the letter to the BBC Trust.

“Does the BBC accept that the irresponsible use of the Khanda in the said news report could increase community tension and that it can lead to incitement of religious hatred?” she said in the letter, which was also copied to the National Community Tension Team (NCTT), set up by the Association of Chief Police Officers, ACPO. We have requested an urgent meeting with the BBC to address the Sikh community’s concerns.

On seeing the Khanda used in the above-mentioned way, the Sikh community had immediately started a national ‘text’ campaign to contact the BBC for the removal of the Khanda from the news item.

“We were contacted by hurt and irate Sikh youths who said something should be done about this outrageous misuse of the Khanda by the BBC in a flagrant disregard to the religious sensitivities of Sikhs,” said Mejindarpal Kaur.

UNITED SIKHS has asked the BBC to investigate how this irresponsible act was allowed to happen when Sikhs have lived in the UK for many years and the Khanda is a well known Sikh insignia. You may read the letter here.

You may read a previous press release on our efforts to create awareness and understanding of Sikh religious rights at http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PR-15-10-2009.html

UNITED SIKHS encourages the Sikh community to exercise their freedom of religion fearlessly, and to contact us with any problems, concerns, or incidents of discrimination.


Issued by:
Rishipal Singh
Director
UNITED SIKHS
Phone: 07709830442
 

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Harry Haller

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Sorry to put forward the politically incorrect view, but firstly, if we are talking about BBC Wales, then hardly anyone watches it, secondly, I would like to think as a community we show a bit less sensitivity towards such matters than some of our more fanatical chest beating continental cousins, thirdly, is it possible this action will only make something even more prominent and open to misinterpretation.
 

Ishna

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I see giant khanda decals plastered on sports cars in my city, usually with bling-y gold khanda's hanging from the rear-vision mirror and driven by young men with near-on shaved heads and bits of stubble, with doof-doof music coming from the sub-woofers!

I prefer the guy at the pizza store who has a little Guru Nanak Dev Ji picture on his dashboard -- no khanda to be seen.

So does the community really view the Khanda as a Sikh religious symbol, or is it more a symbol now of Punjabi Pride?

Not that there's anything wrong with Punjabi Pride or young men expressing themselves in the above mentioned way. But when I see khanda I don't think Sikh, I think Punjabi. Unless it's on a saffron nishan sahib or a Gurdwara.

What are your thoughts?
 

Kanwaljit.Singh

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So does the community really view the Khanda as a Sikh religious symbol, or is it more a symbol now of Punjabi Pride?

Not that there's anything wrong with Punjabi Pride or young men expressing themselves in the above mentioned way. But when I see khanda I don't think Sikh, I think Punjabi. Unless it's on a saffron nishan sahib or a Gurdwara.

What are your thoughts?
In that way Khanda is not even Punjabi Pride, because people who have no relation whatsoever with Punjab like to wear it.

Anyway it is Sikh religious and socio-political symbol. It is not on Nishaan Sahib because it is Punjabi Pride.
 

spnadmin

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ishna ji

What are your thoughts?
I think you need to find ways to interact with Sikhs, especially Punjabi Sikhs, who have expanded beyond their Sikhism of the "pind." There are plenty in Australia. Otherwise you own experience is going to be both confusing and narrow. Apologies for being blunt. I was my saving grace that I knew a different sort of Sikh in my life off-line before taking on the Internet, and a different circle of Internet friends - all btw amritdhari - who were broad reaching in their experience and insights, before I found Sikh forums. All this was liberating for me, before I even arrived at SPN.
 

spnadmin

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Kanwaljit Singh ji

I looked last night. Cannot figure it out...but that may be do to my tech limitations. If you can figure it out let me know. I will try once more too. :happymunda:
 

findingmyway

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BBC videos are only available on their iplayer for 7 days after the programme has aired and only to those who pay the licence fee, i.e. UK residents. The video is no longer there unless someone has managed to copy it and transfer it to youtube or elsewhere.
 

Ishna

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ishna ji

I think you need to find ways to interact with Sikhs, especially Punjabi Sikhs, who have expanded beyond their Sikhism of the "pind." There are plenty in Australia. Otherwise you own experience is going to be both confusing and narrow. Apologies for being blunt. It was my saving grace that I knew a different sort of Sikh in my life off-line before taking on the Internet, and a different circle of Internet friends - all btw amritdhari - who were broad reaching in their experience and insights, before I found Sikh forums. All this was liberating for me, before I even arrived at SPN.
I'm confused... I do try to interact with the Sikhs at my Gurdwara... they are mostly diaspora from Malaysia/Singapore and most have spent a long time in Australia... the Punjabi Sikhs tend to go to Gurdwaras I don't visit often... when I do go there they don't tend to talk to me.

I don't recall seeing any khandas on the cars in the carpark at my Gurdwara.
 

Ishna

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It occurs to me I may have offended people when I said "So does the community really view the Khanda as a Sikh religious symbol, or is it more a symbol now of Punjabi Pride?".

Sorry if I offended you, I didn't mean to say the khanda isn't a Sikh religious symbol, it obviously is as Kanwaljit pointed out is IS on the nishaan sahib.

And I guess my experiences have been limited since my experience has been that in the real world its very difficult to worm ones way into the Punjabi or Diaspora Sikh community especially when you can't speak Punjabi. You're always left on the outside of Punjabi conversations you don't understand and people tend to speak to you as if you don't know the first thing about Sikhism.

And it's not like I don't put myself out there.
 

spnadmin

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I'm confused... I do try to interact with the Sikhs at my Gurdwara... they are mostly diaspora from Malaysia/Singapore and most have spent a long time in Australia... the Punjabi Sikhs tend to go to Gurdwaras I don't visit often... when I do go there they don't tend to talk to me.

I don't recall seeing any khandas on the cars in the carpark at my Gurdwara.
I said, "Ump!" whatever that means when I read this. I was suggesting that gurdwara and the Internet are each in their own way local cultures and do not represent all of the variations of Sikhi that can be met elsewhere. It was supposed to be an upbeat suggestion. I guess I wasn't clear. Gurdwara might be a skewed world. My own experience was to know Sikhs before going to gurdwara here there and everywhere and that gave me a different starting point. So when I ran into hard spots they affected me, but the effects were short-lived ... because I realized that some Sikhs are just rude people, and others are simply ignorant, just like everyone else. However, there are many Sikhs who are really helpful and had a positive influence on me. Sikhi is not a given, simply because on is labeled a Sikh. Maybe I should leave it alone now. lol

I do not know that anyone was offended

It occurs to me I may have offended people when I said "So does the community really view the Khanda as a Sikh religious symbol, or is it more a symbol now of Punjabi Pride?".
This is more to the point of what I was trying to say above...perhaps badly

It occurs to me I may have offended people when I said "So does the community really view the Khanda as a Sikh religious symbol, or is it more a symbol now of Punjabi Pride?".
You don't have to worm your way in. Some people will open their hearts and homes because that is what they do. Others won't. Just be yourself.
 

Ishna

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lol I'm an idiot who needs to lighten up! Good thing you lot are so tolerant! kaurhug
 

spnadmin

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Ishna ji

Not so............Why are you saying that? Rhetorical question only! Go easy on yourself. welcomekaur
 

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