Senior government figures have contacted Lord Singh about a possible backlash against British Sikhs following the Islamic terrorist atrocities in Paris. Lord Singh informed the Head of Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) that attacks on Sikhs, and Sikh places of worship were a real possibility. He gave examples of where right wing extremists in Britain had been unable to distinguish turban-wearing Sikhs from Muslim extremists, and had attacked them. He also spoke to a Minister from DCLG citing other incidents driven by an increase in racism per se, rather than ‘Islamophobia’.
In September 2015 a Neo-Nazi was given life imprisonment for attempting to behead a Sikh dentist in ‘revenge’ for Fusilier Lee Rigby. Lord Singh had previously expressed concern that BBC Newsnight had incorrectly attributed the incident to ‘Islamophobia’. The victim, Dr Sarandev Bhambra, was in fact targeted because of the colour of his skin. In an environment post 9/11 Sikhs have suffered backlash because of both an increase in racism and ‘Islamophobia.’
During a debate this summer Lord Singh raised the difficulty facing Sikhs asking a DCLG Minister, “Does the Minister agree that hate crime is hate crime against any community, and that it should be tackled even-handedly, irrespective of the size of the community?” The Minister agreed, and said “The noble Lord is absolutely right—hate crime is hate crime.”
Despite these assurances DCLG announced last week that hate crime against Muslims was to be separately monitored by every police district in Britain. This provides parity for Muslims with provisions already in place for Jews. Despite the history of violence against Sikhs post 9/11, the government does not currently considered hate crimes against Sikhs worthy of separate monitoring. This inequality needs to be urgently addressed.
Lord Singh informed government officials that earlier this year the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had started to separately track hate crime against Sikhs, Hindus and Arabs. The separate monitoring was given a sense of urgency following the Oak Creek massacre in August 2012, when a white supremacist shot dead six Sikh worshipers in a gurdwara.
He told the Minister Britain should not lag behind the US. The Minister and Head of DCLG said they would urgently follow this up.