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Monday, August 21, 2006

Sikhs Suffer Terror Backlash (UK)

Britain’s Sikh community has been experiencing an increase in hate crimes as part of the backlash from the war on terror. Leaders are campaigning for protection, and they blame public ignorance and the government’s failure to implement adequate measures to safeguard their community for their troubles.

Because of their physical appearance and style of dress, Sikhs are frequently mistaken for radical Muslims, who are locked in an ideological and religious war with western governments.

Members of the UK’s Sikh community are calling on the government to afford them greater recognition and help the public understand that their faith is distinctly different from Islam and other religions.

Principal advisor to Sikhs in England Harmander Singh said there have been significant increases in the reported numbers of hate-related crimes against Sikhs in the aftermath of 9/11 and 7/7.

He told The Voice: “The worst abuses we have encountered in this country were after 9/11, although that incident did not happen here. The first building attacked after 7/7 was a Gudwara in Bexley. We are being persecuted for a cause that we do not share. It is unfortunate that we are being punished for what a minority of Muslims do when we are a totally different faith and ethnicity.”

Sikhs’ concerns come as law enforcement authorities debate racial profiling as a counter-terrorism measure. Under the controversial plans, travellers would be checked at the country’s airports on the basis of their appearance. Campaigners fear south Asians would be targeted. Sikh leaders feel that there is insufficient public awareness and their community will come under undue pressure. [Link]

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