Leamington Spa Gurdwara Protest

There's still confusion as to whether this was about inter-faith marriages or about the alcohol the Gurdwara are planning on serving at the hall adjacent to them, but yesterday, there was a protest at the Gurdwara in Leamington Spa.

A video uploaded by the Sikh Youth Birmingham group, who organised the protest, show a sign saying 'Stop violating Sikh principles for money!!', which for me indicates money moving hands from a liquor license, but is apparently for inter-faith marriages. A video they later posted called 'Live - Interfaith Anand Karaj Protest', show armed police at one end of the room, yell something incoherent to the person filming.

Reading the comments to the video, you see messages from people who organised events, which were cancelled that day because the group were not happy that the Gurdwara were 'shaming' Sikhism by allowing these marriages to take place on sacred ground. The group reply very dismissively: they are happy that their protest has made an impact, carrying little about the Sikhs and the religious people affected by them. Especially at a Gurdwara with the words 'Recognise the human race as ONE' on a placard at the entrance.

Another video appeared, filmed by a young man who at first seemed to be documenting the protest, but soon made comments such as 'They let their children marry Muslims...disgraceful'. As elderly wedding-goers questioned the man's motives. He continues: 'Saying it's okay to marry white people, black people...it's a mess'.

The video has since been deleted, but his words echo in my ears: as a woman (whose family is religious Sikh), who has recently proposed to her white boyfriend, I can feel the words uttered by many religious members of my family and friends. 

The group behind the protest, seem to be predominately of young men, who hold patriarchal views of a woman's choice, what religion should mean and their authoritative voices. There, quite simply, seems to be a lack of respect. Whether someone wants to marry a person out of their faith, is not only no one else's businesses, but also quite a beautiful thing. The ability to share and understand different faiths and ideals show a greater love than these protestors could ever imagine.

Despite this, the reporting of this incident has been abysmal. Sky News used the headline 'Police Arrest 55 After Mob Storm Temple', The Sun's headline was: 'A GANG of men carrying "bladed weapons" are occupying a Sikh temple in Leamington Spa'. These headlines have allowed racists to speak freely of their hatred of anyone in the spectrum of brown, leading the hateful tweets, comments in articles and activists to reassure their agendas.

These 'bladed weapons' and 'dangerous swords' held by the protestors turned out to be ceremonial (Kirpans), which the police have since confirmed. Their armed response was one of stupidity and lack of knowledge about the Sikh religion.

There was quite simply, a poorly executed protest at the Gurdwara, about awfully discriminatory views, held by some young men in the Sikh religion. I've seen many comments of people (women, elders, other faiths) agreeing to this form of protest: not to pigeonhole all Sikh men, but to very specifically talk about this very individual incident.