The Indian Express – London: Police arrest two more over British parliament attack

Police had said the man behind the attack was British-born Muslim convert Khalid Masood, who used several aliases, and that they were trying to establish if others had directed him.

London, 24 March 2017. British police said they had made two further significant arrests in the investigation into the attack on London’s parliament and gave the birth name of the man behind the assault as Adrian Russell Ajao.

Britain’s top anti-terrorism officer, Mark Rowley, said police had nine people in custody after the attack on Wednesday which killed five people including the assailant.

Police had said the man behind the attack was British-born Muslim convert Khalid Masood, who used several aliases, and that they were trying to establish if others had directed him.

“Our investigation focuses on understanding his motivation, his operation and his associates,” Rowley said. “Whilst there is still no evidence of further threats, you’ll understand our determination is to find out if either he acted totally alone, inspired perhaps by terrorist propaganda, or if others have encouraged, supported or directed him.

Rowley said police had made two further “significant” arrests overnight, one in the West Midlands and one in the north west of the country. “We now have nine people remaining in custody, and one woman has been released on bail,” he said.

Rowley said the attacker, who ploughed down pedestrians when he sped across Westminster Bridge before fatally stabbing an unarmed policeman, had injured at least 50 people in total. Two are still in a critical condition, and one person is considered to have life-threatening injuries.

London: Police arrest two more over British parliament attack

Network of Sikh Organisations – Westminster Terror attack

London, 24 March 2017. The Network of Sikh Organisations (NSO) extends its sympathy and condolences to the victims of Wednesday’s terror attack in Westminster. We are saddened to hear about the death of PC Keith Palmer, a 48-year-old husband and father. We pay our respects to the civilians who lost their lives.

British teacher and mother of two Aysha Frade, and American Music studio owner Kurt Cochran, he and his wife had been celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary.

It has been reported a 75-year-old named Leslie Rhodes died of his injuries. Others including a group of French students have suffered horrendous injuries; we wish them a swift recovery.

We pay homage to the bravery of our security and emergency services in the face of an atrocity at the heart of our democracy. It is thanks to their dedication, vigilance and commitment that a day on, Parliament was able to operate and function unhindered.

Individual acts of heroism like that of Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood (who lost his brother in the 2002 Bali bombings) stand out, giving us hope in humanity.

The Prime Minister’s dignified statement yesterday makes it clear Britain “is not afraid.” However we must get to the root cause of the problem without succumbing to the fear of being labelled ‘Islamophobic’ or ‘racist’.

To this end, the NSO is heartened by the Muslim Council of Britain’s (MCB) statement condemning the terrorist attack, however we feel this doesn’t go far enough.

Our Director Lord Singh who was in Westminster on Wednesday, said: “The government must urgently work with Britain’s Muslim leaders to identify the doctrinal motivation and the specific verses from religious scripture which are responsible for inciting a small section of the Muslim community to carry out terrorist attacks against non-Muslims.”

Posted to Sikh News Discussion

Sikh Federation UK – British Sikhs sickened by indiscriminate killing of pedestrians and terror attack on UK Parliament

London, 22 March 2017. A terrorist killed three members of the public and wounded at least 40 other civilians as his Hyundai 4×4 vehicle careered into pedestrians in the heart of the capital outside Parliament.

The man armed with a knife then entered the Parliamentary estate and stabbed to death Keith Palmer, a 48 year old police officer before the attacker was shot dead.

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Keith Palmer who died protecting Parliamentarians and the innocent victims who died or have been seriously injured and their families. The indiscriminate terrorist attack on civilians in Westminster is sickening and deplorable.”

“The location of this callous terrorist attack in Westminster was no accident and in our view a horrific attack on the values Parliament represents of democracy, freedom and the rule of law. We join other peace loving people to condemn this attack and must all be united against violence and terrorism.”

“We are saddened by the rise of such incidents around the world and have urged Sikhs to be calm and extra vigilant. It can not be a coincidence the attack was carried out on the first anniversary of the terror attacks in Brussels. Everyone needs to be much more security conscious.”

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

Posted to Sikh News Discussion Yahoo Group

BBC News – London attack: Five dead in Westminster terror attack

London, 23 March 2017. Five people have died and at least 40 were injured after an attacker drove a car along a pavement in Westminster, stabbed a policeman and was shot dead by police in the grounds of Parliament.

The dead officer has been named as PC Keith Palmer, 48, a husband and father.

PM Theresa May said the attack was “sick and depraved” and struck at values of liberty, democracy and freedom of speech.

The attacker has not been named by police.

Acting Deputy Commissioner and head of counter terrorism at the Metropolitan Police, Mark Rowley, said they think they know who he is and that he was inspired by international and Islamist-related terrorism, but gave no further details.

The attack unfolded at about 14.40 GMT when a single attacker drove a grey Hyundai i40 along a pavement over Westminster Bridge, near the Houses of Parliament in central London, killing at least two people and injuring many more.

The car then crashed into railings outside the Houses of Parliament.

The attacker, armed with a knife, ran to Parliament where he was confronted by the police. PC Palmer, who was not armed, was then stabbed and killed.

The attacker was shot dead by armed officers.

Mr Rowley paid tribute to PC Palmer, saying: “He was someone who left for work today expecting to return home at the end of his shift, and he had every right to expect that would happen.”

“Heartbroken” former colleague, Conservative MP James Cleverly, paid tribute to the “lovely man” he had known for 25 years. The pair had served together in the Royal Artillery before PC Palmer became a policeman.

Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood, a former Army officer whose brother died in the Bali terrorist bombing in 2002, attempted mouth-to-mouth resuscitation of Pc Palmer.

One woman was killed after being hit by the attacker’s car before it reached Parliament. She was confirmed dead by a doctor at St Thomas’ Hospital.

To read the full article and also other reports on the attack go to:

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-39359158

Sikh24.com – Sikhs Extra Vigilant in London After Terror Attack

Sikh24 Editors

London-UK, 23 March 2017. After the terror attack outside the House of Westminster, in London, Sikhs throughout the area are stepping up their vigilance as the alarm of the attack reaches evening commuters.

The attack today transpired after a terrorist driving his vehicle into members of the public. He subsequently stabbed a policeman on guard duty, before being shot dead by armed police. Four deaths have resulted.

Sikhs have borne the brunt of knee-jerk reprisals in the past as hate crimes usually and as such Gurdwara Sahibs often been a target, so local Sikh communities are on alert to be safe from any such unfounded responses.

The Met Police have cordoned off many areas of central London and asked members of the public to volunteer any images or footage that they may have captured on personal devices.

“I would like to ask the public to remain vigilant and let us know if they see anything suspicious that causes them concern and dial 999 immediately”, said Commander B J Harrington, of New Scotland Yard.

http://www.sikh24.com/2017/03/23/sikhs-extra-vigilant-in-london-after-terror-attack/#.WNNw06K1vIU

BBC Radio 4 – Thought for the day 21-3-17

Lord Indarjit Singh

Last week’s ruling by the European Court of Justice that employers have a right to set dress codes (that can exclude religious symbols and dress), came as a shock to turban wearing Sikhs, Muslim women who wear a headscarf, and many Christians and Jews.

Despite assurances from the government, legal experts and the European Court of Human Rights stating that faith communities in the UK would continue to be free to both practice and manifest their religious belief, postings on internet discussion groups, suggest some people still feel the ruling might be used to their disadvantage.

Some European politicians, playing to growing populism, welcomed the ruling. For me it was all déjà vu. In the early 80s, I spent a day and a half in court as an expert witness for the then Commission for Racial Equality, in a case against a school that said its uniform rules did not allow a Sikh boy the right to wear a turban in school.

The case, that went all the way to the House of Lords, finally established the right of Sikhs to wear the symbols of their faith. During my cross-examination, I was asked: Would you be equally offended if you were told you could not enter a church or a school? I replied: ‘No, because for a Sikh it is not necessary to go to a church. But it is necessary to be educated.

A Sikh child would be placed at a severe disadvantage, especially when, to add to the hurt, he is told, “we are doing this in the interest of racial harmony”. I honestly thought that we had now finally moved on from earlier insensitivity, to ‘those not like us’, but populism, which can open the door to racism, seems to be gaining ground in much of the world, with its unstated message that those ‘not like us’, are responsible for all our problems.

Guru Gobind Singh, the last of the Sikh Gurus, directly challenged such prejudiced thinking. He taught:

Though some see only difference,

We are all of one race in all the world.

We all have the same form, compounded of the same elements

The one Lord made us all.

I believe the Gurus words are a timely warning against the growing allure of populism, now all too evident in much of the world.

Posted to Sikh News Discussion by:
Hardeep Singh <bbinfo108@yahoo.co.uk>

Dawn – Four dead, including attacker, in UK parliament ‘terror’ assault

London, 22 March 2017. At least three people were killed and 20 injured in a “terrorist” attack in the heart of London Wednesday when a man mowed down pedestrians on a bridge, then stabbed a police officer outside parliament before being shot dead.

Police guarding the iconic House of Commons building shot the man but several people were left with “catastrophic” injuries on Westminster Bridge, a busy traffic junction popular with tourists with views of Big Ben.

The car crashed into the railings outside the heavily guarded parliament building and witnesses described a man leaping out of the vehicle into the grounds of parliament and stabbing a police officer.

The incident comes with Europe on high alert after a series of deadly militant attacks and exactly a year after militants killed 32 people in a bomb attack in Brussels.

The parliament building was immediately sealed off and MPs and staff ordered to remain inside.

“We are treating this as a terrorist incident,” police said in a statement.

Those dead included the police officer and the attacker, authorities said.

David Lidington, the British minister responsible for arranging government business, told MPs: “It seems that a police officer has been stabbed, that the alleged assailant was shot by armed police.”

Prime Minister Theresa May is safe, her Downing Street office said, and was preparing to chair a meeting of the government’s COBRA emergencies committee.

She was seen being driven away from parliament.

Police cordoned off a large area in Westminster and tourists on the London Eye, a popular tourist attraction, were stuck 135 metres in the air for around an hour during the incident.

The local Underground station at Westminster was also closed off.

One fatality confirmed

At least 10 patients were treated on Westminster Bridge and several hospitals were on alert, London Ambulance Service said.

French Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve confirmed that several French students were hurt in the attack.

US President Donald Trump said he had been briefed on the incident, describing it as “big news” and French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed their condolences.

The Port of London Authority confirmed that a seriously injured woman was recovered from the River Thames, having jumped or fallen from Westminster Bridge.

“A female member of the public was recovered alive from the water, but with serious injuries,” said spokesman Martin Garside.

“She has been brought ashore and is undergoing urgent medical treatment.”

Polish former foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski was in a taxi on the bridge and said a car “mowed down at least five people… one of them bleeding profusely.”

Attack at parliament gates

Pictures of what happened next showed two people being attended to on the ground inside the vehicle entrance gates of parliament.

Three shots were heard on video footage.

A staff member in parliament, who did not want to be named, told AFP: “I saw someone in dark clothing go down.”

Jason Groves, the Daily Mail newspaper’s political editor, said he witnessed a man coming through the vehicle entrance wielding something, heading towards a police officer, who then fell to the ground.

Another officer then shot the man from around 10 metres away “with a handgun, and then gets closer to him and shoots him again from over him and he doesn’t get up”.

Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood was pictured helping to give first aid to an injured police officer.
Armed police walk past emergency services attending to injured people on the floor outside the Houses of Parliament.

In Edinburgh, Scotland’s parliament suspended a crucial debate and vote on whether to hold a new referendum on independence.

“The fact that our sister parliament had a serious incident is effecting this particular debate,” the Edinburgh assembly’s presiding officer Ken Macintosh said.

In July 2005, four British suicide bombers inspired by Al-Qaeda attacked London’s transport system during rush hour, killing 52 people.

Airline security change

The incident came a day after Britain announced it planned to follow the United States and introduce a ban on electronic devices in cabins on flights from some Middle Eastern and North African countries.

Affected airlines have until Saturday to implement the measure.

US officials warned that terrorists are seeking “innovative” ways to attack airliners with smaller explosive devices hidden in consumer electronics larger than smartphones.

On Saturday, a man who had been investigated for links to radical Islam was shot dead at Paris’s Orly airport after attacking a soldier on patrol and grabbing her rifle.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1322164/four-dead-including-attacker-in-uk-parliament-terror-assault

The Independent – ‘Neo-Nazis’ plan White Pride march on same day as Sikh religious festival

Far-right extremists will gather in Edinburgh to ‘secure the existence of our people and the future for white children’

Niamh McIntyre

A group of ‘neo-Nazi’ extremists will march through Edinburgh next week to mark “Global White Pride Day”.

The march is planned for the same day as a Sikh religious festival in Edinburgh, which will see hundreds take to the streets in a Nagar Kirtan procession, a traditional display of martial arts, hymns and music.

Unite Against Fascism (UAF) claim the National Front has organised the demonstration, in collaboration with other far-right groups.

The event appears to be organised by the same far-right groups behind a ‘White Pride Day’ celebration in Swansea, held on the same day in March last year.

The organisers of the 2016 event described it as an opportunity to “stand proud of our race and white heritage while pledging that we must secure the existence of our people and the future for white children.”

UAF have organised a counter-demonstration to oppose the White Pride March.

A member of UAF said: “Emboldened by Nazi Le Pen’s polling in France and by the influence of white nationalists in Donald Trump’s team these fascists feel confident they can come to the streets of our multicultural city.

“Edinburgh has a fine tradition of stopping racists and Nazis. Should the National Front decide to step foot in Edinburgh, we call upon all anti-racists and anti-fascists to take part in the broadest united mobilisation.

“We won’t stand for their racism, their Islamophobia, their scapegoating of migrants and refugees. We will push them back like we did with the SDL, the EDL and the BNP.”

The march has been called just days after neo-Nazi propaganda was discovered at several bus stops in nearby Dunfermline.

The material encouraged local people to “reject multiculturalism”, while some posters bore the slogan: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”

The posters were soon removed and police are investigating.

A spokesperson for campaign group Scotland Against Trump said: “We know that the majority of folk in Scotland oppose the extreme racism practised by so-called White Pride marchers and by far-right politicians in the UK government.

When these gangs promote mass violence against whole groups of people, we believe they have no right to public space and will use our overwhelming numbers of protesters to prevent them from marching.”

A council spokeswoman confirmed no permission as yet had been sought for any ‘White Pride’ march in Edinburgh, but Police Scotland said they were aware of “several demonstrations” planned for the city centre on March 25.

A spokeswoman told The Edinburgh News: “We are working with our partners, including The City of Edinburgh Council, to put in place a proportionate policing operation to facilitate peaceful protest and minimise disruption to the public.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/neo-nazis-national-front-white-pride-day-alt-right-scotland-edinburgh-unite-a7636611.html

Business Standard – Freedom of religion under threat as EU allows employers to ban headscarves

The ruling opens up a Pandora’s box and could disproportionately affect Muslim women

Sara Silvestri, The Conversation

London, 17 March 2017. Employers across Europe have been given the green light to ban staff from wearing religious and political symbols after a ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ).

The ruling opens up a Pandora’s box and could disproportionately affect Muslim women facing requests to remove headscarves in some places of work across Europe.

But it is also likely to affect other people that display their religious affiliations through their dress, such as Sikh men, Orthodox Jewish women, nuns working in hospitals or schools, or those who overtly display their political affiliations or sympathies.

The ECJ ruling related to two cases brought by national courts in France and Belgium, regarding Muslim women who had sued their employers.

The women argued that they had been discriminated against at work for being asked to remove their veils – one by the employer and the other by a customer and subsequently by her employer – and were sacked when they refused to do so.

Within the EU, national laws about equality and non-discrimination in the workplace are governed by an overarching EU directive from 2000, and the French and Belgian courts wanted clarification from the ECJ around how to interpret the law in these cases.

The ruling will not allow employers to systematically ban the hijab and other religious and political symbols in all workplaces, but it does provide ammunition for those who want to ask their staff not to display religious symbols.

The ECJ decided that if an employer’s goal is to provide services to customers in a neutral way, it is entitled to request its employees to remove visible religious or political symbols.

But this logic around respecting the neutrality of the employer’s goals remains fuzzy, and seems to go against a previous ruling from the European Court of Human Rights, which has upheld the rights of employees to display religious symbols at work as part of their religious freedom.

The ECJ judgement also specifies that requests from customers asking employees not to wear religious or political symbols will not constitute a legitimate ground for employers to ban such clothing.

In fact, the ECJ said this reasoning would amount to religious discrimination. However, in an age where many employers take a customer-centred approach to their organisational goals, this could be a fine line.

Unprecedented in scope

The two plaintiffs in this ECJ case were from Belgium and France, countries in which vehement “laïcité” or state secularism already underpins laws regarding religious dress and has led to burqa bans.

But as the ruling will affect the whole of Europe, not just France and Belgium, it is unclear how much the ECJ judges considered the implications of their ruling for other countries which do not share the French and Belgian policy of laïcité.

Thankfully, the ECJ’s jurisdiction does not pertain to religious freedom in general, and so the scope of this ruling is relatively narrow and limited to non-discrimination in the workplace.

But its ruling is frustrating and contradictory, particularly as the EU was a pioneer in establishing the principles of equality and non-discrimination on religious grounds in a person’s occupation with the directive in 2000.

The EU even set up an independent EU Agency for Fundamental Rights in 2007 to share good practices and research and to monitor EU countries in this area.

At a time when Europe is short of big ideals and existing conflicts and demographic transformations indicate we need to pay more, not less, attention to freedom of religion and of expression, it does not help that such a prominent international court is unwilling to be bolder in dealing with these fundamental freedoms and the idea of tolerance.

This is new territory for the ECJ and the scope of its ruling is unprecedented. So far, controversies about religious symbols in Europe have been considered by the European Court of Human Rights, an institution outside of the EU, because they dealt with issues of human rights and freedom of religion.

The ECJ, an EU institution based in Luxembourg, had previously ruled on employment matters associated with non-discrimination and equality, but until now no such case had been brought there specifically on the grounds of “religious” discrimination.

Concerns have already been raised about how the ruling will affect Muslim women across Europe, whether they wear the hijab or not, at least on an emotional level.

Yet, unless employers and national courts in different EU member states come across court disputes similar to those presented in this ruling, then this judgement will sit in a drawer without directly affecting people.

Still, the ruling is likely to provide ammunition and political legitimacy to all those across Europe who are promoting anti-Muslim, anti-religious or anti-migrant feelings.

Britain looking more attractive

A serious implication is that EU states will now no longer need to create an anti-veil law for anti-veil views and behaviour to be established and legitimised in everyday life, they are now implicitly sanctioned by this ruling.

The outcome could easily be prejudice, erosion of societal relations, intolerance, racist incidents, and fear among Muslim and other religious communities.

In the wake of Brexit, the ruling will have only a temporary effect in the UK, unless the British government decides to permanently incorporate this particular bit of EU law into its own body of law once the UK leaves.

To date, the government has a firm position on hijab and burqa bans that it looks unlikely to change, viewing them as unnecessary and even counter-productive.

It’s therefore possible that after Brexit, the UK might become the only place in Europe where Muslims and other religious communities can take up jobs without being too worried that they will have to remove religious clothing, although this is not to dismiss the existence of anti-Muslim feelings in the UK.

In an unintended consequence of the ruling, the UK might actually become more attractive to Muslims for professional reasons than the rest of the EU.

Sara Silvestri, Senior Lecturer, Department of International Politics, City, University of London

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

http://www.business-standard.com/article/international/freedom-of-religion-under-threat-as-eu-allows-employers-to-ban-headscarves-117031700193_1.html

Sikh Federation UK – European Court of Justice ruling is deeply disturbing for Sikhs living in mainland Europe who are already vulnerable to widespread discrimination at work

London, 14 March 2017. The Luxembourg based European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling that employers with justifiable rules on ‘dress neutrality’ can ban workers from wearing any political, philosophical or religious symbols at work is deeply disturbing.

We are less worried about this decision in a UK context. In the UK we are open-minded and appreciate and accept differences. We also have national laws and widely accepted behaviours that value freedom of expression, freedom of religion and provide protection against discrimination.

As far as the 700,000 Sikhs in the UK are concerned we are protected not only as a separate religion, but as an ethnic or racial group. In 1983 Sikhs were successful in the Mandla v Lee case, involving a head teacher banning a Sikh student from wearing his turban to school.

That case went all the way to the House of Lords and the Law Lords in a unanimous verdict recognised Sikhs as a separate ethnic group and protected from discrimination under the Race Relations Act 1976.

In 2008 we helped a 14-year old Sikh girl win her case in the High Court on the right to wear her Kara, an iron bracelet, to a school in South Wales. Again she won her case on the basis of racial discrimination. Interestingly she did not win the case on the basis of religious discrimination.

In theory there is no hierarchy of rights in the Equality Act 2010, but in practice the British courts have given a lower priority to religious discrimination than other protected characteristics.

Our main worry is the situation in mainland Europe. There are probably 250,000-300,000 Sikhs in countries across mainland Europe, in countries like Italy, Spain, Portugal and Germany who are already vulnerable to widespread discrimination, especially when it comes to employment.

We have witnessed difficulties in France, which is not just about the ban on the turban in schools that was imposed 13 years ago in 2004, but also about the turban being banned for any one seeking a public sector job, such as a teacher, doctor or nurse.

The ability of the large and well established Sikh community in the UK and the UK Government to directly influence the situation in countries in mainland Europe is now much diminished since the Brexit vote.

We warned this would be the case before the vote on 23 June last year and that the minority Sikh community in mainland Europe would lose the voice of its strongest and most effective backer in Europe.

The challenge with Sikh articles of faith is people often think of the turban, which can be worn by Sikh men and women. But as mentioned we have also had cases concerning the iron bracelet, the Kara.

The Kirpan, a small sword worn by practising Sikhs is sometimes mentioned, but laws exist in the UK that recognise the Kirpan is not an offensive weapon and this has in general allowed the Kirpan to be successfully worn at work.

However, if you take this ruling to its logic conclusion one of the main articles of faith for a Sikh is the uncut hair, this is often why Sikhs have a turban. History has shown that Sikhs have been prepared to sacrifice their head rather than allow their hair to be cut.

The Moghul rulers in the 17th century tried to suppress the right to wear the turban, but Sikhs refused to accept their authority and faced incalculable atrocities, but fought with great valour to maintain their right to keep their uncut hair and wear their turbans with pride.

The ninth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji sacrificed his life in Delhi for the freedom of religion. The tenth Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji, created the visionary concept of the ‘Khalsa’ to re-establish the lost pride with a distinct Sikh identity.

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

“This ruling strikes at the heart of practicing the Sikh faith. History has shown Sikhs have been prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice to defend the right to keep their uncut hair and associated turban.”

“Judges and politicians in mainland Europe should be ashamed they have so easily and quickly forgotten the 83,005 turban wearing Sikhs who lost their lives and the 109,045 who were wounded for the freedoms we enjoy today in Europe.”

Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)

http://www.sikhfeduk.com | sikhfederationuk@yahoo.co.uk |
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