Den Haag – Buitenhof – Korte Voorhout

Buitenhof – Korte Voorhout
31 December 2019

Mauritshuis – Museum
After Prince Maurice,
the second ‘Stadhouder’ of the Dutch Republic

Buitenhof – Tram 16 to Statenkwartier

Buitenhof – Tram 16 to Statenkwartier

Korte Voorhout Tram 15 to Noordorp

Korte Voorhout – Tram 15 to Noordorp

Royal Theatre

More Netherlands pictures to be published
Harjinder Singh
Man in Blue

543. The Man in Blue – Open Masjid day in Southall

On Sunday the 1st of February it was Open Masjid (mosque) day. I knew that this was not something that all masjids had signed up to, but I wanted to go to the local mosque anyway in view of the bad news from France and Belgium recently, showing that I knew that not all Muslims are with Islamic State.

Together with a friend I went to Montague Way and on our arrival it was soon clear that no arrangements were made to receive non-Muslim visitors. A man spoke to us and I explained what we had in mind and he told us to sit in the wudu (ritual washing) area and wait for a committee member.

When I tried to explain that if he came to the Gurdwara he would receive a different treatment, he made it clear that he had no reason to ever do so.

After that I decided to leave, as it was obvious to me that we were not welcome and that the concept of people of other faiths visiting the masjid was alien to him and to a few other people who by then joined in the conversation.

I have to stress that the people we spoke to were not rude, and also that there are enough ignorant people amongst people of other faiths than Islam.

I am convinced that the way forward for multi-cultural societies is to have more dialogue, more visits to each other’s places of worship, more saying to people of other faith: this church/gurdwara/mandir/masjid/synagogue/vihara is also your church/gurdwara/mandir/masjid/synagogue/vihara.

And it is even more wonderful when communities work together on projects in their local area. There is nothing better than cooking together, cleaning up a park together or bring food and warm clothing to the homeless together.

It is good when ‘faith leaders’ meet, but that should result in meetings of the ordinary members of those communities.

I remember a group that came to the Belgian gurdwara where I did seva for three years. One of the members of that group refused to enter the premises.

In the UK an enlightened Human Resources department of an establishment with many clients of non-Christian backgrounds sent new employees as part of their training on a tour of west-London to visit a mandir, a masjid and a gurdwara.

In this case none of trainees refused to enter the Hindu or the Sikh place of worship. But about one third of them did not want to enter the masjid.

There is a lot of work to do, on the level of ‘faith leaders’, on the level of local government and amongst the grassroots of all faiths. I do not think that all faiths are the same, but we have enough in common as human beings, as people who want to live a life based on ethics, to make dialogue and cooperation fruitful.

Central Jamia Masjid, Montague Waye, Southall UB2 5PA

416.The Man in Blue – Elections in Southall

In case you did not know, I am a member of the Liberal Democrats. I have been actively campaigning since the beginning of this month and if you live in the Norwood Green ward of Southall you can actually vote for me for Ealing Council. But this is not what this article is about.

What I want to discuss with you is the quality of the councillors and the MPs that we have been voting for here in Southall. For years Southall has been represented by Piara Singh Khabra. We should not be nasty about those who have passed away, but even Labour supporters must admit that Piara Singh did not work very hard for Southall.

Now we have Virendra Sharma as an MP, and he follows the example of Piara Singh. Virendra Sharma wants to be re-elected and Gurcharan Singh, ex-Labour and now Conservative, is his main opponent. I know, we all know that there are much better people in the South Asian community in West London. Why are we stuck with these two poor choices ?

Regardless of party, why is there not a South Asian equivalent of for instance John McDonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington, who works hard for all communities in his constituency. Why is it that we have throughout West London so many mediocre South Asian councillors ?

It is not because there is a lack of talent. I know plenty of South Asian people in all generations who are intelligent, well educated, hard working and successful in their line of business or in a professional career.

Is politics not attractive to the doers, is it because it does not bring in the big bucks ? Why do we mostly get the people who are happy to take the seat and the respect of the community, but who do not want to work hard at representing the voters of their ward or constituency ?

To a degree the same is true for our Gurdwaré. How many inspirational and hard working Sikhs are there on prabandhak committees ?

If you are more or less a floating voter in West London you have no problem, you just vote for the most capable candidate regardless of party. But if you are a committed Conservative or Labour supporter it must be frustrating. All you can do is choose between TweedledumandTweedledee.

It is a little late now, but I very much hope that enthusiastic and honest members of Southall’s diverse communities will come forward the next time round to genuinely represent the people of our wonderful Southall. (Southall is wonderful ! I lived in Roermond, Amsterdam, Dublin, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Heston and Southall, and Southall easily is one of the best places to live in.)

Appeal to stop the use of violence

All Sikhs, Sikh organisations and Gurdwaré should undertake never again to use violence as a means to settle differences of opinion. There is no precedent from Guru’s days for this bad practice, the Guru taught us to stand up against injustice, not against opinions that we do not agree with.