Not all that peaceful

Sikh 2 Inspire are posting drivel on their Facebook page to justify their disruption of someone else’s wedding today.

Five hours ago:

Our brothers peacefully protested in the form of a sit down protest chanting vaheguru mantar at leamington spa gurdwara sahib, and are currently being arrested.

What is their crime?

No violence was committed, no one used a Sri Sahib, and no foul language was used.

More information and videos can be found on Sikh youth Birmingham page.

To clarify one key point, the Sikhs protesting were not ‘armed’ with anything other than their kirpans which a Sikh must wear always being amritdhari. This is yet again the police and press twisting facts to suit their headlines and over the top responses to a peaceful a Sikh protest.

Sikh to inspire support the need for a gurdwara committee sudhar lehar where Beadbi of guru sahib takes place.

There’s no such thing as a “peaceful protest” of someone else’s wedding, assuming both people are consenting adults. I could see protesting a wedding between an adult and a child, for instance, but this is not that. “Protesting” other people’s weddings because religion blah blah rules blah blah forbidden blah blah – no. That’s just intimidation and bullying.

Two hours ago:

Sikh to inspire are supporting this and our team are on the way please everyone share and attend
Basics of Sikhi Sevadaars are doing a national appeal to all Sikhs, especially Amritdhari Sikhs to come together today at 5pm outside their local police station. We will be at Southall Police station on Broadway at 5pm. Today in the media, our sacred Kirpan has been repeatedly described as a bladed weapon and armed police have been called out on peaceful protestors. The media and police have victimised the Sikh appearance and defamed the Sikh community in the UK. They don’t have have an appropriate understanding of the Sikh community and have not found appropriate representatives from the Sikh community to balance the malicious viewpoints presented. We ask everyone to turn up to their local police station with their normal Kirpan and explain to them that they are carrying a legal Kirpan and carrying out a legal peaceful protest about the police in Leamington Spa. Ask to be arrested for carrying a bladed weapon and be surrounded by armed police. If not, then how come the Sikhs in Leamington had that happen to them?

But Sikh to Inspire don’t represent Sikhs in general; they’re a very conservative faction of Sikhs, not Sikhs tout court.

Also, of course, it’s entirely possible for an object to be both “sacred” and a weapon. The fact that the Kirpan is considered sacred doesn’t automatically dull the blade.

One hour ago:

As most of the Sangat will have seen today, the media has once again misunderstood and misrepresented an issue affecting the Sikhs and have taken advantage of both the date (9/11) and the situation to create ridiculous headlines.

The BBC contacted one of our team this morning and we’ve put across our key points underlying the peaceful protests. This was prior to the unnecessary arrests being made. The press will be looking to speak to more people so please lets be careful and considered in what we say.

Key points to mention:
– The protests are not about race as there are Sikhs of all races
– The peaceful protests are about non Sikhs undertaking a Sikh religious ceremony in a Gurdwara which is not line with Sikh protocol
– The Anand Karaj (Sikh Wedding ceremony) is one of a number of religious ceremonies in a Sikhs life, including birth, initiation (Amrit) and death. Each of these is built about Sikh practice, belief, hymns etc
– If someone from a Sikh family wishes to marry someone from another faith, that is their personal matter but the religious ceremonies require both parties to be Sikh. Where this is not the case the couple are invited to undertake any other ceremony they wish, civil marriage etc as per their personal wishes
– A similar approach is taken by the other major faith groups and their religious institutions including Jewish, Muslim and Christian
– The arrests today and police response were totally unnecessary and the press have widely over reacted with language used to provoke and intimidate readers ‘storm’ ‘invade” etc
– The disproportionate response to peaceful Sikh protest compared to other protests has not been lost on the Sikhs

Please be aware that every media outlet will be looking to benefit from the storm they’ve created with the Police. Please remain calm, the media articles are hurtful but we need to raise above.

Quick reminder Met Police had to apologise for their handling of the last major Sikh protest.

They are of course wrong in saying “a similar approach is taken by the other major faith groups and their religious institutions including Jewish, Muslim and Christian.” There are liberal Jews, Muslims and Christians who don’t take that approach, and there are liberal temples, mosques and churches that don’t take that approach. Religions don’t have to be maximally hateful and narrow, and not all of them are.

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