Leaders of some of the largest Sikh and Hindu organisations as well as Sikh Students in this country have signed a ‘Joint Statement’ condemning the English Defence League (EDL) including any Sikh youth who support the EDL.
The statement is also signed by two Members of Parliament from Asian background as well as a number of councillors, including Councillor Lakhbir Singh, former Mayor of Luton, who himself had suffered a vicious attack by a racist youth last year after some protests in Luton.
Other signatories include, Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Southall, the largest Sikh temple outside India, together with many other Sikh and Hindu temples in Southall, west London. Its also been signed by a major Sikh temple in Barking, east London, a hotspot for the British National Party (BNP), as well as by the British Sikh Council (UK), an umbrella organisation for a number of Sikh temples in this country.
The Sikh Student Societies include some of the most famous colleges in London, like the London School of Economics (LSE), University College London (UCL) and Imperial College as well as the University of Hertfordshire. The statement is also signed by the Indian Workers Association (GB), Sikhs In England ( SIE ), an influential Sikh organisation, and Unite Against Fascism (UAF).
The statement reads, “We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned by the rise in fascism, Islamophobia, anti-semitism and racism. The English Defence League (EDL) has organised events across the country, stirring up hatred, Islamophobia and racism – running riot in some cases and provoking violent attacks on Muslim, black and Asian communities and on Mosques and Mandirs (Hindu temples)”.
It further highlights, ” They are using the old tactics of ‘divide and rule’ and are trying to divide the Asians by isolating the Muslim community. Furthermore, some misguided Sikh youth are letting themselves to be used by the EDL while a Sikh man has disgracefully joined the BNP. These people are helping to spread mistrust within our communities and we whole heartedly condemn their actions”.
And adds that, “At a time of economic crisis with mass unemployment and impending deep public spending cuts - if the racists are allowed to make any further gains then we all would suffer from grave consequences. Thus we urge all Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews and people of other faiths to come together to strongly condemn the actions of these racist organizations and unite to turn back this tide of hatred”.
Balwinder Singh Rana, spokesperson for UAF, also added, “The EDL pretend that they are not racist but they are no different than the old NF and the BNP. Now is the time for Sikhs and Hindus to stand shoulder to shoulder with our Muslim brethren and tell the EDL that their sinister aims of ‘divide and rule’ will not work. Otherwise it’s the Muslims today and it will be all us tomorrow”.
Varinder Singh, youth representative for the Turban Campaign, said, ”It is of great concern that our youth are being recruited into the fascist and Islamophobic ideology which the English Defence League promotes. We as a community must face this threat to our youth head on by staying true to the core teachings of the Sikh Guru’s, which emphasise the importance of pluralism and brotherhood amongst mankind.”
So far the EDL has held more than thirty marches and demonstrations up and down the country, often ending in violence. Now they are to return to Luton on Saturday, 5th February , which they regard their hometown as that’s where they began about 18 months ago. Councillor Lakhbir Singh, ex Mayor of Luton, who himself had suffered a vicious attack by a racist youth last year after some previous protests in Luton is also one of the signatories.