Gurpreet Singh: Prayers offered for Christchurch victims at gurdwara where worker was murdered by white racists

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      What binds a Surrey Sikh temple with two mosques in a faraway country is its own experience with racism in the past.

      At the Guru Nanak gurdwara on 120 Street, a temple keeper, Nirmal Singh Gill, was beaten to death by skinheads in the parking lot in January 1998. 

      On Sunday, its Sikh congregation held prayers for the victims of a racist attack on two mosques in New Zealand that killed 50 people.  

      They remembered the dead and prayed for the speedy recovery of those injured.

      The temple president, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, told Straight that apart from that connection, the values of Sikhism demand that adherents must stand up for everyone without any discrimination.

      He pointed out that daily prayers of the Sikhs end with a verse that calls for the well-being of all of humankind.

      The development is significant in light of a Sikh legislator with the ruling right-wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party in India trying to justify the Christchurch incident.

      Manjinder Singh Sirsa is a member of the Delhi Legislative Assembly and the head of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee. 

      After the mass murder, he went on Twitter to suggest that the attacks were the outcome of violence being perpetrated by the Islamic extremists. He has also shared controversial views expressed by right-wing Australian senator Fraser Anning. Anning has blamed the attacks on Muslim immigration.

      After an uproar over Sirsa's tweet, the BJP politician deleted it.

      Indian politician Manjinder Singh Sirsa sparked outrage by blaming the victims for the Christchurch massacres.
      Chardikla Time TV Official

      In Surrey, Nijjar strongly denounced Sirsa's statement. Nijjar said that it only reflects the mindset of his party, which desires to turn India into a Hindu theocracy, noting that the BJP is known for its anti-minority stance.

      Nijjar believes that a true Sikh would never take that position because Sikh gurus always stood against injustice and oppression without compromising with those in power.  

      He further said that in view of growing bigotry in North America and the Quebec City mosque massacre that left six people dead in 2017, Sikh temples are deliberating on increasing vigilance in partnership with other religious minority groups who face similar challenges.

      Nijjar made his comments in advance of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which is held on March 21 every year.

      That's the day when South African police fired on peaceful demonstrators in Sharpeville, killing 69 people.

      Gurpreet Singh is cofounder of Radical Desi magazine and Indians Abroad for Pluralist India.

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