World Sikh Organisation (WSO) launched a social media campaign #AskCanadianSikhs. The advocacy group said: “Over the past month, the Canadian news media reports have lacked nuance and context and as a result, have smeared the Sikh community as radical and extremist.”
Sikh groups are pushing back against the perceived demonisation of the community in Canada in the wake of controversies surrounding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to India in February and criticism of New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh’s appearances in which he appeared to endorse separatism.
Mukhbir Singh says he was waiting in line to enter Montreal’s Bell Centre to take in the Canadiens-Penguins game on Thursday, when a fellow Habs fan standing in line asked him if he was Sikh.
When Singh replied in the affirmative, the man promptly asked him a question about Sikh extremism.
“The first question was, ‘Is there a terrorism issue? Is this actually happening in your community?’” said Singh.
The hardline group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) held a conference recently near Toronto about its proposed Punjab Independence Referendum 2020, but addressed the issues arising out of Trudeau’s trip.
SFJ also sent invitations to Trudeau and all Canadian MPs to attend the event or send their representatives, but none of them turned up. In a letter to Trudeau, Pannun wrote: “You must be aware that it is a well-established fact that Khalistan is merely a political opinion and Canadian Sikhs who believe in and advocate for it cannot be charged with violence or terrorism for expressing a political opinion, no matter how unpleasant that opinion may be for India or Canada.”