541.The Man in Blue – Sikhs and other traditions

I have noticed that many Sikh authors who write about other traditions compare the bad practice of others with the wonderful teachings of Guru.

Many people who have come into Sikhi from ‘outside’ notice how little of these wonderful teachings are practiced by present day Sikhs, regardless whether they are amritdhari or not.

The person who ‘honour killed’ Amritpal Kaur from Sint-Truiden, Belgium, was an amritdhari Sikh, the people responsible for the killing of Jagdish Singh’s sister from Coventry were amritdhari Sikhs.

In both these cases there were many voices in the community who stressed the disobedience of the girls killed, but not the disobedience to basic Sikh teachings of those guilty of murder.

Those who broke the legs of Jasvir Singh thought they acted on behalf of Guru.

Christians who claim to be the followers of that wonderful enlightened person Jesus, the son of Joseph, have persecuted those amongst their own who did not agree with the ‘main stream’, in a most horrible manner.

In the late 16th century, Philip II, husband of (bloody) Mary Tudor, who was amongst other things the Lord of the Netherlands, punished protestant males with being burnt alive and protestant females with being buried alive.

You should read about the crusades in East Prussia and the Baltic, in the Middle East or in the south of France where non-main stream Christians were massacred. And yet Jesus gives not even the slightest excuse for such behaviour.

I have read Al Quran from cover to cover more than once, and could not find any excuse for Al Shabab, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, Taliban or the present ‘Islamic State’.

Through my interfaith contacts I know that many Muslims want nothing to do with any of the organisations that I mention above.

I was recently in East London at a meeting about Gaza, mostly attended by Muslims of Bangladeshi background. There was a lot of anger, which is unfortunate, but nothing was said against Jews or Israelis that would be punishable by law.

They, like Sayeeda Warsi, like me, just cannot understand why so many in the west do not condemn the appalling way in which the people of the West Bank and Gaza are treated by Israel.

The Shoa does not give Israel the right to lord over the Arab inhabitants of Israel/ Palestine. Injustices by westerners are no excuse for the behaviour of above mentioned Muslim organisations, who often kill more Muslims than ‘unbelievers’.

We should be like Guru and look for good people of all faiths !

425.The Man in Blue – Banning of Pag and Patka in schools in Belgium

I am on a crash course trying to understand the background of the problems that Belgian Sikh youngsters face in education.

Like France, Belgium is a majority Roman Catholic country. In the Dutch speaking north, which I know much better than the French speaking south, the Roman Catholic Church used to be very powerful.

I think that this power of the church explains the ‘fundamentalist secularism’ of France and Belgium. Additionally in the Dutch speaking area the often right wing Flemish nationalists are not just against being ruled by French speakers but also tend to be against any incomers (Flemish first !).

The anti-incomers’ sentiment is strongest against the Islamic immigrants, probably because they are blamed for the ‘Islamic’ terrorism. This sentiment explains the anti ‘headscarf’ mood in the Dutch speaking part of the country. It is mostly based on emotions, not on rational arguments.

At the moment schools can make their own decisions to ban headscarves (which include turbans and patkas) or not. As I read the political mood it would not surprise me if a total ban on headscarves in schools will be implemented in the Dutch speaking part of the country.

As long as the politicians we have a dialogue with accept that cultural and religious minorities in the country cannot be wished away, we have a chance to win our case based on arguments.

Popular opinion thinks that Muslim girls wearing hijáb or niqáb are forced to wear these by their family. Going by my experience in the UK this is a generalisations not based on facts. Some girls are under pressure to wear the hijáb, others wear it against the will of their family. The same applies to Sikh boys wearing the turban.

I think that Sikhs (and Muslims) should stick to their traditions and values while actively taking part in society. Sikhs should be seen ‘living the values’ that Guru teaches. Sikhs should practice making an honest living, practice compassion and practice One God/One Humanity. We should not withdraw into a narrow Panjabi world of our own.

Popular opinion assumes that Muslims and Sikhs wearing religious symbols do not want to integrate. This again is not evidence based, and we can prove them wrong.

Sikh children, all children, have the absolute right to be educated. We have, all have, the absolute right to work in all jobs. We have, all have, the duty to be active, critical citizens of whichever country we live in.

391.Is my Sister equal to me ?

My answer to this question, whether I look at it from my Dutch or my Sikh perspective, is a resounding YES ! From a sub-continental point of view the question is more challenging. The two main religions or dharms on the sub-continent have a rich tradition of treating women as second class, as creatures to be ruled by men.

Sikhí is firmly based on the unity of mankind, but I have seen inequality being practised by Sikhs in Panjab and to a lesser degree here in the UK. I also find that English society is less equal in many respects than what I am used to in the Netherlands. This does not mean that they get everything right in my country of origin !

Guru’s teachings are wonderful. It is obvious from Gurbaní that Guru sees all creation, all creatures as coming from God, and that therefore we should respect all creation. Judging by Gurbaní Sikhs are way ahead of Panjabi, western, Hindu or Ibrahimic ‘teachings’.

The other day I went to two interfaith meetings. At the first meeting I met a female Anglican priest, who was treated by her two male colleagues as an absolute equal. That same day in another meeting I met a female vicar of the United Reformed Church. Both ladies were better educated than the majority of our granthis and were very comfortable in the company of people of other faiths.

A few years ago I attended a meeting regarding the Muslim school in Slough. The committee that was to decide on the school could not come to a decision and the case for a Muslim school was brought before an adjudicator.

The hall was full, partly with the Muslim variety of our greybeards, but there was a good presence of young Muslim women, many of them in hijáb. The men did what South Asian men are good at, they disagreed and launched personal attacks on each other.

The young Muslim women spoke good English, and formulated their contributions well. If it had not been for them the case of the Slough Islamic School might have been lost.

I am not saying that all Muslims and Christians are right and all Sikhs are wrong. In Sikhí we are on firm ground when we speak out for ‘One God, One Humanity’. But I am disappointed when I see that we are overtaken by Christians, Jews and Muslims when it comes to practising equality.

Please let us concentrate on getting our own house in order and let us practice equality between men and women, between all !

Published in: on October 26, 2009 at 6:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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385.The Man in Blue – Dutch Islamophobia (II)

008.SMS Camp Bristol

Man in Blue at the Sikh Missionary Camp in Bristol

Pim Fortuyn was the first Dutch politician who made the minorities and their ‘alien’ cultures and/or religions his main campaigning point. He was killed by a left-wing green activist.

The event that was a real bonus to anti-immigrant politicians going for the popular vote was the killing of Theo van Gogh, a relative of the great Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh.

Theo van Gogh made a film called Submission about a Muslim woman forced into an arranged marriage, who is abused by her husband and raped by her uncle. A scene in the film showed an actress in see-through garments with a text from Al Qur’an written on her body, which also bore whip marks.

There is a parallel with the Bezhti case, where the playwright confused the ante-diluvium attitudes of many Panjabis with the teachings of the Guru Granth. In the case of Al Qur’an, whatever it teaches about the role of women, it cannot be blamed for the sort of behaviour depicted in the film.

The ‘Muslim’ who killed Theo van Gogh seems to follow Karl Marx’s Verelendung theory : if you make things worse for your community they will rise up and change the Netherlands into some kind of European Iran. Of course neither the majority of the Muslims nor of the other people living in the country want such a state, but that does not stop this kind of idiot.

Theo van Gogh had a good point, but made it badly. His killer had a valid argument against Theo van Gogh’s film, but by killing Theo van Gogh he made things worse for everybody in the Netherlands, and especially for the Muslims, who form about 5.5% of the population.

As a result Geert Wilders, ex member of the right wing ‘liberal’ VVD and now the Leader of the Partij voor de Vrijheid (Party for Freedom) scored about 30% of the vote in the recent European elections. Note that Geert Wilders’ party does not stand for freedom for all, like Guru Gobind Singh or the Dutch ‘Father of the Fatherland’ Willem the Silent, but only the freedom of those he sees as ‘proper’ Dutchmen.

The worst ‘sin’ of movements like this is that they force Muslims on a heap. They are asked to choose between ‘Dutch values’ and Osama Bin Laden, and of course they might not like either of these choices.  

Living together with people of different cultures and religions causes problems. These problems can be solved through dialogue and better understanding. Slogan shouting does no good and thinking that you can close your borders is an illusion in the world-village. Worldwide justice and better prices for commodities are the only viable anti-emigration policies.

Published in: on September 13, 2009 at 9:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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