(above) Sikhs participating in a vigil following the Wisconsin gurdwara massacre in 2012
Recognise the equality of all human beings’ – Guru Gobind Singh
The publication of the UK Government’s four-year plan for tackling hate crime, ‘Action Against Hate’ has demonstrated a clear bias against those of non-Abrahamic faiths.
The forty-page document published last month, gives 23 examples of hate crimes against Jews, 19 against Muslims and 3 against Christians. There is not a single reference to hate crimes against Sikhs, Hindus or those of other non-Abrahamic faiths.
There are in total 13 references to financial aid in tackling hate crime against Jews, Muslims and Christians. Measures with allocated funding are detailed in the plan to tackle both Jewish and Muslim hate crime. There is no parallel reference to similar funding assistance for Sikhs, Hindus or other non-Abrahamic faiths.
We are especially concerned about the contents of the document, given our prior communication with the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). Further to a FOI request by the NSO, it was made apparent that 28% of victims of ‘Islamophobic hate crime’ recorded by the MET in 2015 were non-Muslim. This was the subject of mainstream media coverage. Despite pointing this out to DCLG, it’s troubling that this important finding was not highlighted in the plan.
It is well known that Sikhs have suffered immensely post 9/11. The first person to be killed in retribution for the twin towers attack was a turbaned Sikh. This month we mark the 4th anniversary of the Wisconsin gurdwara massacre, where six worshippers were murdered by a white supremacist. In 2015 the FBI started to separately monitor hate crime against Sikhs, Hindus and Arabs. Prior to this violence against Sikhs had been incorrectly classified as ‘anti-Islamic.’
In 2015 a Sikh dentist was the victim of a machete attack in Wales, which was wrongly labelled ‘Islamophobic’ on a flagship BBC television programme. It was later confirmed the victim was attacked because of his race, not religion. Last month, three Islamic State inspired teenagers were found guilty of bombing a gurdwara in Germany. It is extraordinary that despite these events, the British government blithely ignores the vulnerability of a vast swathe of the electorate.
Lord Singh, NSO Director said, “The plan does not even recognise that Sikhs and other non-Abrahamic faith communities suffer hate crime.”
He went on, “In the 15th and 16th centuries the Sikh Gurus stressed that all members of our one human family were entitled to equal respect. UK Sikhs expect the UK government in the 21st century to give equal support and consideration to all faiths.”
Whilst we are acutely concerned about the marginalisation of non-Abrahamic faiths, we welcome the pledge that national statistics on the incidence of hate crime will be disaggregated from next year. We hope this will finally convince the government that hate crimes occur beyond the Abrahamic faiths, and must be taken equally seriously. The government should issue an unequivocal apology for its failure to acknowledge the very real concerns of Sikhs, Hindus and others.
Hate begins with fear and fear with ignorance. Hate crime will continue to be a blot on British society unless prompt action is taken to address ignorance and insensitivity towards other faiths and cultures at all levels of society, including government.