London, October 24: British Sikhs have expressed concerns that the UK government’s updated strategy to combat hate crime may be failing to fully acknowledge the problem of “Islamophobia on Sikhs”, or attacks on the community members for being mistaken as Muslims.
The Network of Sikh Organisations (NSO), a representative body for gurdwaras and Sikh organisations across the UK, says that despite repeated interventions the government’s new “refresh” of its action against hate strategy to combat hate crimes fails to fully take into account attacks on the “Muslim looking other”.
“The government is unwilling to address the wider ramifications of Islamophobia on Sikhs, or the ‘Muslim looking other’,” the NSO said in a statement.
“A simple acknowledgment that Sikhs face Islamophobia would have allayed concerns. Like us, many will be right to ask the government why ministerial round tables are the preserve of Jews and Muslims,” it notes.
The NSO intervention comes as the UK concluded its National Hate Crime Awareness Week over the weekend with an announcement of a review into whether additional offences such as misogyny and ageism should be hate crimes.
The review coincided with the release of figures indicating that religious hate crime, or people being targeted for their religious beliefs, had registered a surge in Britain over the past few years. But the NSO believes that the government’s current focus on religious groups is “far too narrow”, and all faiths should be treated with “parity”.
“Many hate crimes described as Islamophobic are directed against Sikhs out of ignorance or mistaken identity,” NSO director and House of Lords peer Indarjit Singh said during a Parliamentary debate last week.
Sikh and Hindu groups have been lobbying and in January last year, the UK government responded with policy to help these communities report hate crime via True Vision, a police-funded website.
“This govt abhors all forms of hate crime, including that directed at Sikhs. The refreshed Hate Crime Action Plan to tackle race, religious crime applies equally to Sikhs as for other religions,” said UK faith minister Lord Nick Bourne.
Source Hindustan Times