Pakistan’s Sikhs face increased violence

Pakistan’s Sikhs face increased violence

Members of Pakistan’s Sikh community say they are increasingly being singled out and attacked because Islamist militants see them as infidels.

According to this report, there is a growing atmosphere of intolerance in a country long plagued by sectarian violence. Like Shi’ite Muslims, Christians and other minorities, Sikhs live in a paranoid and hostile world where every stranger is assumed to be an attacker.

Wearing a large pink turban and sitting cross-legged in his pharmacy, Amarjeet Singh, 40, said the community was so afraid that most people stopped showing up for prayers in the traditional Sikh place of worship – the Gurdwara, or the gateway to the guru.

I have run this business for last 22 years. Never in my life have I experienced such insecurity. Around 60 percent of our shops are closed due to security concerns. Many parents are not sending their children to schools.

Singh expressed fear over people who enter his shop.

I don’t know if it’s a customer or an assailant who will reach out for his gun.

Last month, Harjeet Singh, another Sikh shopkeeper, was shot dead at his herbal medicine shop in Peshawar, near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan which is home to most of the country’s 40,000 strong Sikh community.

Peshawar, a sprawling and chaotic city of 3.8 million lies in a conservative region awash with radical Islamist ideology. Pamphlets praising Islamic State, a group fighting to set up a global Islamic caliphate, have recently appeared.

According to police, at least eight Sikhs have been killed in the past year and a half – the first ever recorded sectarian killings of Sikhs in Pakistan’s history.

Many Sikhs see Pakistan as the place where their religion began: the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, was born in 1469 in a small village near the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore.

Sikhs have a long and colorful history in Pakistan. Originally persecuted by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in the 17th century, they fled to the remote mountains on what is now the Pakistan-Afghan border and settled among Pashtun tribes.

Sikhs have praised their Pashtun hosts for allowing them to hide in their lands thanks to the tribal principle of sanctuary but growing instability in the region has changed the picture.

At least 500 Sikh families have recently migrated to Peshawar due to a military operation against Taliban militants in the North Waziristan region on the Afghan border.

Said Haroon Sarab Diyal, chairman of the All Pakistan Hindu Rights Movement, a group advocating Hindu and Sikh rights.

They were forced to leave their established businesses … They were also doing well in Peshawar until the latest wave of attacks. Sikh are not sending their children to schools, especially boys who stand out due to their head dress.

Senior police officer Najeeb-ur-Rehman said police were regularly patrolling Sikh areas and were deployed at the main temple, its facade, painted in a light golden color, shining gently in the sun above a narrow maze of dusty alleys.

Sardar Charanjit Singh, a Sikh elder, said:

Pakistan is land of the pure for us, it is the birth place of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism. It’s our mother land, we love this soil. Why are we being targeted here? People are very frightened, it’s a time of sorrow for us.

• The photo above accompanied a March 15, 4014 report in the Kashmir Despatch that highlighted the plight of  Sikh communities targeted by Islamists.

Jasdeep Singh, President of the Guru Manyo Granth Society – a coalition of various Sikh youth organisations – was quoted as saying that he was shocked to find out how girls from the minority community were being kidnapped and forced to marry against their will and the police was behaving like mute spectators.

He added that those who protest against the abductions or killings are framed and booked under Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws.

13 responses to “Pakistan’s Sikhs face increased violence”

  1. Newspaniard says:

    Curiosity drove me to Wikipedia on this subject. I always thought that Sikhs were just another branch of the islamist bunch. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are a totally independent religion which forbids most things that the barbarians of islam demand. Sorry, Sikhs, my bad, I’ll think a lot better of you in the future.

    I know, “Patronizing git”, but at least I know
    something today which I didn’t yesterday.

    To qualify my above, I have pasted that below from Wikipedia:
    There are a number of religious prohibitions in Sikhism.

    Prohibited are:

    Cutting hair: Cutting hair is strictly forbidden in Sikhism for those who have taken the Amrit initiation ceremony. These Amritdhari or Khalsa Sikhs are required to keep unshorn hair.
    Intoxication: Consumption of alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and other intoxicants is not allowed. Intoxicants are strictly forbidden for a Sikh.[98][99][100] However the Nihangs of Punjab take an infusion of cannabis to assist meditation.[101]
    Blind spirituality: Superstitions and rituals should not be observed or followed, including pilgrimages, fasting and ritual purification; circumcision; idols & grave worship; compulsory wearing of the veil for women; etc.
    Material obsession: Obsession with material wealth is discouraged in Sikhism.
    Sacrifice of creatures: The practice of sati (widows throwing themselves on the funeral pyre of their husbands), ritual animal sacrifice to celebrate holy occasions, etc. are forbidden.
    Non-family-oriented living: A Sikh is encouraged not to live as a recluse, beggar, yogi, monastic (monk/nun) or celibate. Sikhs are to live as saint-soldiers.
    Worthless talk: Bragging, lying, slander, “back-stabbing”, etc. are not permitted. The Guru Granth Sahib tells the Sikh, “Your mouth has not stopped slandering and gossiping about others. Your service is useless and fruitless.”[102]
    Priestly class: Sikhism does not have priests; they were abolished by Guru Gobind Singh (the 10th Guru of Sikhism).[103] The only position he left was a Granthi to look after the Guru Granth Sahib, any Sikh is free to become Granthi or read from the Guru Granth Sahib.[103]
    Eating meat killed in a ritualistic manner (Kutha meat): Sikhs are strictly prohibited from eating halal meat from animals slaughtered in a religiously prescribed manner (such as dhabihah or shechita, known as Kutha meat, when the animal is killed by exsanguination via throat-cutting),[104] or any meat where langar is served.[105][106] In some small Sikh Sects, i.e. Akhand Kirtani Jatha eating any meat is believed to be forbidden, but this is not a universally held belief.[107][108]
    Having extramarital sexual relations.[98][99][109][110][111]

  2. gedediah says:

    My limited experience of Sikhs is that they are a civilized and tolerant bunch, as far as religion goes.

  3. Broga says:

    @Newspaniard: Thanks for the information on the Sikh’s. That changed my opinion as well. They seem to have many civilised practises. So, I can see why they would upset rabid, foaming at the mouth Muslims.

  4. Brummie says:

    However, two of the main religious movements in the world, Sikhs and Christians, have torture/killing implements in their logos. Perhaps Pastafarians should portray the Flying Spagetti Monster wielding an AK47 to give them more credence?

  5. Paul Cook says:

    This is exactly, why after 9/11, stupid, dumb morons in the US attacked and murdered Sikhs, thinking they were Arabs or islamic.

    “I always thought that Sikhs were just another branch of the islamist bunch.”

    I find it incredible that if you are a European freethinker Newspaniard,(and I don’t know where you live so I am guessing), you have had to go to wikipedia to learn some basics. I am shocked that any one automatically classes someone different as islamic. There are many Sikhs living in Britain.

    They had their own land and were at one time very very powerful. The British had several wars to bring them ‘under’ control in India.
    The British crown contains a diamond as big as a duck egg looted from them. Although the Crown would say it was a gift. A Freethinker knows better.

  6. L.Long says:

    I can see his mistake as it was mine at some point, primarily from visual judgement. The turbans–ugly beards–dress-like pants were very similar to the islame garb. I still find the religion like other delusional tthinking silly and full of rules for no reason. But they at least are not cutting peoples heads off for no good reason.

  7. barriejohn says:

    The peoples of South and South-East Asia are incredibly attracted to any “mystical” philosophy. When I was a young man, Christians eulogized Sadhu Sundar Singh, but I have to say that reading his biographies myself I just considered him a bit of a nutter, and wondered why such a strange person would be promoted as an example to young Christians (after all, his behaviour and beliefs wouldn’t have been acceptable in the circles in which I moved!):

    There is certainly something attractive about people who eschew “worldly possessions” and seek to live by “higher values”, but why do they feel that they have to find meaning and purpose in life outside of themselves? I am certainly much more at peace with myself, and feel much more fulfilled, since ditching any idea of a “spiritual” aspect to life in the religious sense, though I don’t object to the use of such terms as “man’s creative spirit”, or “artisitic inspiration”, as they don’t imply, to me, any sort of other-worldly influence. What do others think?

  8. Angela_K says:

    I’ve always had a respect for Sikhs because they tend to keep their religion to themselves, fought on our side in two World wars and have integrated fairly well in to British society – the exact opposite of muslims.

  9. Adam Tjaavk says:

    Through personal life I’ve always found Sikhs
    civilized and tolerant; and more often than not,
    have found Muslims opinionated, conceited, and
    disparaging – hence ‘kafr’.


  10. barriejohn says:

    Angel, Adam et al: Isn’t this the difference between “spiritual” and “religious”? The spiritual tend to have a philosophy which helps them to cope personally with the vicissitudes of life, whereas the religious have a dogma which they want to force upon everyone else. And the big, bad, Abrahamic god is a mean beast whose attributes rub off on his followers.

  11. Vanity Unfair says:

    And I have never had a Sikh try to convert me or lecture me on why my lack of belief makes me worthless.

  12. Dioniogi says:

    I don’t know if it still happens but for many years Sikhs were not allowed into Saudi Arabia as they were classed as the lowest of the infidels.

  13. Maggie says:

    No word from our politicians claiming that these attacks have “nothing to do with religion” and, of course, “nothing to do with Islam”. Not even a British MP can spin it that far.