Where Unity Is Strength

                                                                                 ‘Look beyond divisive factions to loyalty to all                           in our one human family’                 

Guru Nanak, Japji Sahib, Sri Guru Granth Sahib

On Tuesday the 12th November Sikhs worldwide will be marking the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak the founder of Sikhism. Sikhism is a world religion dedicated to the promotion of compassion, equality and tolerance between different faiths and beliefs.

Sadly, on this very day of celebration where Sikhs and non-Sikhs will be marking a significant day in human history, the fringe Sikh Federation UK (SFUK) have a judicial review listed in the High Court challenging the ONS’s decision not to include a Sikh ‘ethnic’ tick box in the next Census.

Religion is already an option for Sikhs in the Census, and we maintain the ONS made the right decision – it is an absurdity to suggest Sikhs are an ethnicity. SFUK and their ally Preet Gill wrongly suggest Sikhs are an ‘ethnic’ group, rather than the religion founded by Guru Nanak, and one which is open to all regardless of ethnicity, colour or background.

Worst still, the SFUK are asking others to demonstrate ‘against continued discrimination’ outside the High Court on Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary. What a way to commemorate the birth anniversary of someone opposing artificial factional divisions.

We are delighted to be official partners for UK Parliament Week (UKPW) for the second year running. This year we held a series of events to mark UKPW. On 13th October we organised a workshop at Sri Guru Singh Sabha Hounslow, where Ruth Cadbury and Lord Singh of Wimbledon addressed an audience of over 100 children and adults. The speakers explored how we can better engage with parliament and the democratic process. The Q&A afterwards was a highlight, especially because of the excellent questions to the panel from young children – who wanted to know about policies around knife crime, the environment and Brexit. They were fully engaged and had also participated in a parliament quiz earlier in the day conducted by Barinder Kaur from the gurdwara.

On 4th November we held an event in the House or Lords and were delighted to be joined by Annie Waddington from UKPW who addressed the audience about this year’s campaign, as well as Gurpal Virdi former councillor and author of Behind the Blue Line. Gurpal asked the attendees to mark with a short silence the anniversary of Kirpal Kaur Sandhu – Britain’s first Asian female police office and then went on to talk about his battle for justice and how his engagement with democracy helped. Annie talked of approximately 12,000 events up and down the country celebrating UKPW, in which almost a million people have participated. She told the audience, ‘It starts with you.’

The speakers reinforced the importance of our responsibility in acting – they said, ‘don’t sit on the sofa moaning’, and described the ways in which we get involved in issues we are passionate about to make the changes we want to see.

Lord Singh closing the meeting said, ‘we must take personal responsibility in engaging with the democratic process, and we are all equal stakeholders in this regard. Otherwise, there is a tendency for government to look to people who make the most noise, and they aren’t always representative of majority views.’

Here’s a link to a blog written by our Deputy-Director Hardeep Singh for UKPW.

We have been overwhelmed by supportive messages for our Director following the front-page headline in The Times last month – ‘Sikh peer leaves BBC Radio 4 show with swipe at ‘thought police’’.  The solidarity has come from all over the world, from Sikhs and people of other faiths and none – including Christians, Jews, Muslims and Hindus. It is a matter of grave concern that an overzealous producer had the temerity to insult Sikhism by attempting to censor the sacrifice of our 9th Guru, Tegh Bahadur, who gave his life standing up for freedom of religious belief in the face of tyranny. In an increasingly fractured society, it is these very values that must be celebrated and promoted – not censored by the ‘thought’ police.

The story was covered across the media including in the Sun, Express, Telegraph, Daily Mail, Times of India and many more.

You can read Lord Singh’s opinion editorial in the Mail on Sunday here and our Deputy-Director Hardeep Singh wrote an article for the Spectator.

We are pursuing a complaint against the BBC for the insult to Sikh teachings and cannot do this without your support.

We have set up a petition and need as many signatures as possible: The petition can be signed here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/public-inquiry-into-bbc-censorship-and-bias

We are grateful for those that contacted us with messages of solidarity including the following:

‘Lord Singh is a Sikh ambassador, who speaks about the teachings of Guru’s with passion. The Sikh Guru’s taught equality, truthfulness and honesty, they fought and sacrificed their life for freedom of worship and other injustices, regardless of who they were.’ Kuldip M

‘Lord Singh is not alone and with support we need to highlight the orchestrated bias within the BBC’ Manjit B.

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