SIKHS DEMAND IMMEDIATE APOLOGY FOR IRRESPONSIBLE AND OFFENSIVE USE OF THE TERM ‘SIKH TALIBAN’ BY BBC RADIO PRESENTER
London – 14 August 2015
BBC radio DJ and presenter Bobby Friction has offended Sikhs by using the term ‘Sikh Taliban’ on Twitter and failing to issue an apology. Instead he has tried to justify his use of the term, that he incredibly continues to describe as a ‘metaphor’.
His comments reproduced below have been described as irresponsible and unacceptable by leading Sikh organisations. The BBC has started to receive complaints for what many have described as ‘shocking and disgraceful’ remarks.
An online petition of complaints to the BBC has also been launched due to the numbers wishing to complain: Complaint Against Bobby Friction
There is no room for such language for law-abiding Sikhs and a term directly associated with an Islamic fundamentalist political movement in Afghanistan that British armed forces have been confronting and laying down their lives. Condemnation of Bobby Friction from the British Sikh community has been swift and widespread.
There are no excuses for causing offence by using the term ‘Taliban’ that not only reminds Sikhs of sacrifices of the Sikh Gurus at the hands of the Mughal emperors, but also verbal abuse, racist attacks and killings of innocent turban wearing Sikhs in more recent times since 9/11. It is flippant remarks like these that fuel calls for the BBC not to be funded through the licence fee.
The comment by Bobby Friction on Twitter follows his personal desire for Gurdwaras to allow people of different faiths to partake in an Anand Karaj (Sikh religious wedding ceremony) and refusing to accept the Sikh Code of Conduct.
The Code states: “Persons professing faiths other than the Sikh faith cannot be joined in wedlock by the Anand Karaj ceremony.”
With an increasing number of interfaith marriages a further clarification on the Code of Conduct was issued in 2007 by the authorities in Amritsar that ruled an Anand Karaj can only be between two Sikhs.
Gurdwaras and Sikh organisations in the UK have made clear that if people of different faiths wish to marry they should partake in a civil rather than religious ceremony. If religion is important to one or both they can visit each other’s places of worship, offer prayers and as far as Gurdwaras are concerned organise a Langar (free food kitchen) in the Gurdwara.
It is illogical to force marriages at religious places involving two religious backgrounds as the couple lack the solemn and sacred commitments necessary to partake in a religious ceremony.
The Sikh religion has its own guiding principles in married life which are explained during an Anand Karaj. If only one of the two sitting before Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the Sikh Holy scriptures, in the presence of the holy congregation (Sangat), is listening to and accepting the guidance then it becomes a form of disrespect to both the Guru Granth Sahib Ji and the Sangat.
The argument that the Guru Granth Sahib Ji is for all humanity and that the Gurdwara is open to all regardless of religion or social background misses the point. The Anand Karaj is an approved religious ceremony for Sikhs who have total belief in Guru Granth Sahib Ji as the only temporal and spiritual guide.
Bobby Friction’s Twitter comment followed similar comments by Sunny Hundal, a freelance journalist and author who was quoted in the Independent on 12 August using the term ‘Taliban’ and ‘thugs’ to describe a small number of Sikhs who peacefully protested last week against an interfaith Anand Karaj in Southall. They have totally over reacted and taken advantage of a situation that involved no physical violence or arrests and for personal reasons and publicity.
Interestingly both Bobby Friction and Sunny Hundal were born into Sikh families, but have abandoned and do not accept the teachings of the Sikh Gurus. They mistakenly seem to believe their Sikh origin and positions of responsibility in the media give them license to be offensive and racist without challenge on the basis of freedom to express their views.
Rather than offer an apology they have continued to justify their comments and persisted with a social media campaign of name calling and abuse. They both have tens of thousands of followers on Twitter and listeners and their offensive comments are irresponsible and fuelling racist behaviour. The fact that several right wing web sites have promoted their racist views demonstrates the recklessness of their comments.
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)
A DJ from the UK made the following comments on Facebook calling those who uphold the sanctity of Sikh ceremonies the ‘Taliban’
The UK Sikh Federation along with others responded to his controversial comments.