Your editorial, A Community’s Nature, Globe & Mail, June 28th, while a commendable recognition of the fact that Sikhs are, historically, and concurrently, a persecuted community or minority people, seems to judge them, particularly Canadian Sikhs, by supernatural standards as to their reactions to persecution that is going on.
It appears that the blood curdling horror that Sikhs have suffered and are suffering in India simply fails to have the equal impact on an outside commentator or news editor. To the critic the spectre of jubilant Sikhs in the streets of Toronto is more offensive than the un witnessed massacre and shame beyond the seas. To moralize, sir is easy. To be murdered, maimed, torched, ‘raped, hunted, defamed, jailed, tortured, confined and coerced by a giant majority and its armed forces is another matter altogether. Sikh community’s nature is no different from the nature of any other community. That includes, the Catholic and Protestants in Northern Ireland, The shiaite versus both Christian and Israelis in Lebanon, The Tamils and Sinhalese in Ceylon or Sri Lanka, The Iraqis and Iranians: engaged in border games, the Basques and the Spanish, the Kurds and IraquisIranians both, the Armenians and the Turks, the Greeks and the Turks in Cyprus, the Blacks and the Dutch rulers in South Africa, and many more communities everywhere.
Then why should the Canadian news media find it in their heart to make a football of the Canadian Sikhs as a community? Are the Sikhs not human and of earth and not from Mars or some other planet? Have no restraint and human understanding in Canada? Should national newspapers not use discrimination?
It is obviously difficult for Canadian newsmen to have an in-depth understanding of the Indian groups and their politics. Those same groups have their members living abroad also, including Canada. These include the leftist and communist parties. They operate as sheep in wolfs clothing. The ‘peace mongering’ and the ‘extremist bashing’ sells them quickly to the news media here as elsewhere in the Western world. They are no friends of any democracy or of any religion. But they kill two birds with one stone: destroy a religious group, such as Sikhs, and sabotage (and help Russia) a democracy such as India. So we hear them advocating the causes of the PEOPLE “the poor, the oppressed in India” (not just Sikhs). All these poets, intellectuals, repeatedly make their debut in Canada, and the newsmen give them reckless and dangerous publicity. It is sad that the Canadian media is so gullible and also irresponsible.
You preach against extremism. The Canadian Sikh community could not agree with you more. But please do not try to get away from the human limitations and soar into the supernatural. Stop the causes of ‘extremism, if you can, or stop the ‘extremism of the governments or nations.’ Then you will ensure the peace that has eluded the world to this day. Please do not pick on weak and the vulnerable.
Surindar Singh Jabal
Vice-president (B.C. Region)
World Sikh Organization of Canada
Article extracted from this publication >> July 12, 1985