Petition update

32,700 Leicestershire Residents Learn About Racism at our Temple

Guru Nanak Gurudwara (Leics) Sangat

Aug 7, 2016 — On Saturday 6th August 2016, the advert below was published in the widely read ‘Leicester Mercury’ newspaper on pages 21-23. About 32,700 would have been sold (as quoted by Leicester Mercury representative).

To view images of these 3 pages, please go to our Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=143808862724075&id=100012848857339

On Friday 22nd July 2016, a similar 2-page advert was placed in the ‘Des Pardes Weekly’ newspaper, which claims to reach 80% of the Panjabi population in the UK, which means that hundreds of thousands of people have been made aware of this serious issue.

As of Saturday 6th August 2016, Joginder is still working at the Gurdwara and the committee is still supporting him 100%.

Here’s the advert content:

“Racism at Sikh Temple in Leicester

About Sikhism
Sikhism is the world's fifth largest religion. Essentially, Sikhs believe in one God and that all human beings are equal, irrespective of their colour, religion, gender or any other factor. The core belief in one God is practiced through the ‘free kitchen’ service (Langar), which was started at Sikh temples by Guru Nanak Sahib, to serve the congregation, as well as, the needy, hungry and homeless, including people of all faiths and/or no faith, free of cost.

If a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, atheist or anyone visits a Sikh temple anywhere in the world, he/she will be treated with respect and offered the same food that is served to Sikh temple-goers, free of cost. Racial discrimination may not be unlawful at a place of worship in the UK, but it is unacceptable at a Sikh temple, as it contradicts the purpose of Langar and the spiritual teachings of Sikhism.

Think about it, if someone refuses food to eligible Non-Sikhs at a Sikh temple, then that person is not seeing humanity as one, which is a key teaching of the Sikh faith. Sikhs are taught that the light of God resides within all beings; hence one must serve God by equally serving and loving all beings, without any discrimination.

As an example, the Golden Temple (Sikh shrine) in India, feeds between approximately 40,000 and 100,000 temple visitors, every day, free of cost, irrespective of their colour, religion or background. The Golden Temple itself has four doors, which signifies that people (Sikhs & Non-Sikhs) are welcome from all four directions of the world.

Many Non-Sikhs may think of the Guru Granth Sahib Ji as the holy book of the Sikhs, but for Sikhs, it is the living embodiment of the Sikh Gurus, which is why it is honoured and treated with the greatest respect. Interestingly, the spiritual wisdom of many God-conscious Non-Sikhs has been included in the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, by the Sikh Gurus, which demonstrates that Sikhism is an inclusive religion, which truly teaches, “We are all one”.

When a Sikh bows with reverence to the Guru Granth Sahib Ji, he/she bows to the spiritual teachings of many God-conscious Non-Sikhs. This combined with the fact that Langar is served to all eligible temple visitors (Sikhs and Non-Sikhs), irrefutably establishes that racism has nothing to do with Sikhism.

About our Sikh temple
As the ‘Guru Nanak Gurdwara’ is located near Leicester city center, we see many Non-Sikh (White, Black, Muslim & Hindu) visitors, some of whom are needy and homeless. They are welcome to have Langar (free food) provided:
(a) They are not drunk or intoxicated.
(b) They are modestly dressed.
(c) They cover their heads.
(d) They take their shoes off.
(e) They’re not anti-social.
(f) They respect the Sikh faith and other temple visitors.

The Problem
For the past 5-6 years, our temple has employed a man named Joginder, who works part-time as a cook, between 4pm and 9pm, 7 days a week. As part of his duties, he is responsible for cooking and serving food to all eligible temple visitors (who meet criteria a-f above), including Non-Sikhs. However, over the past 1.5-years or so, we have increasingly observed that Joginder has been refusing food to eligible Non-Sikhs, without reason.

Joginder has snatched plates out of the hands of eligible Non-Sikhs and told them to go away. He has given Non-Sikhs one chapatti, when it’s the norm to give two. Last year, he initiated an argument with a Polish man, who used to voluntarily empty all the kitchen bins, in the mornings and evenings, before he’d have food.

Joginder partnered with a non-management temple member, took this Polish man into the temple’s office and told him that he’s permanently banned, despite them not having the authority to do this. The Polish man cried, “I’m sorry, please don’t ban me”, but Joginder declared that he’s banned, which the Polish man believed and never returned again.

Early in 2016, temple members and a management member witnessed a Hindu woman crying because Joginder had refused to serve her, having rudely said that “This isn’t a restaurant”, yet Joginder was still allowed to cook and serve food after that very serious incident, without being disciplined, or more appropriately, banned from the temple. We were truly disgusted by Joginder’s anti-Sikh behavior on that day and had made a formal complaint to the management, but they ignored us. There are too many incidents of racial discrimination to narrate here.

Joginder abuses his position as a cook, by refusing food to eligible Non-Sikhs, who visit our temple, which is against the principle of Langar and the spiritual teachings of Sikhism. The eligible White, Black, Muslim and Hindu visitors that Joginder refuses to serve and/or disrespects don’t know his name. However, as they enter our temple they can clearly see an image of Guru Nanak Sahib (founder of Sikhism) and a huge sign saying “Guru Nanak Gurdwara”.

Who gets defamed because of Joginder’s racist actions? Our Sikh temple, our Guru’s name, the institution of Langar and the Sikh community. This is unacceptable to the congregation, yet the management has continued to ignore our serious complaints, over a 1.5-year period.

Timeline of Events
-(2015-2016): We made verbal complaints about Joginder refusing to serve eligible Non-Sikhs, over a 1-year period, but the management ignored us.

-January 2016: We became aware of the fact that Joginder is likely an illegal immigrant, so we reported him to the UK Border Force, but no action has been taken against Joginder or the management, to date.

-4th April 2016: We sent a Special Delivery letter [Royal Mail Tracking Number AE854146080GB] to the management, in which key incidents of racial discrimination were mentioned. We gave them over two weeks to permanently ban Joginder from our temple, for his racist and anti-Sikh behavior, but they ignored us again.

-23rd April 2016: We started an online petition on the Change.org website, which the management has ignored to date, even though we have over 340 supporters.

-29th April 2016: The management harassed the temple’s gym members, falsely accusing them of starting the online petition.

-1st July 2016: A temple member happened to film an incident that supports our petition, as Joginder was caught mistreating a sober White homeless woman, by calling her a “dirty woman” before telling her that he doesn’t respect her, in front of temple members, just before the video was made.

As we were sick and tired of complaining to the useless and shameless management, we simply uploaded the video onto YouTube to show the world the kind of disturbing scenes that we’ve had to witness, over the past 1.5-years, because of the management’s gross negligence in handling our very serious complaints about Joginder’s racist and anti-Sikh behavior at our temple.

If you haven’t seen the video, please search YouTube for:
‘Racist ‘Joginder Singh’ refuses food to White Homeless woman at Sikh Temple’, or go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piUaULtWYxw&feature=youtu.be

As some of the communication is in Panjabi, to understand what happened during that video, please scroll down the online petition page and see our update titled ‘What happened on 1st July 2016, when the video was made?’ or go to:
https://www.change.org/p/leicester-sikhs-ban-racist-joginder-singh-from-guru-nanak-temple-leics-for-refusing-langar-to-non-sikhs/u/17461412

-3rd July 2016: 10-11 management and non-management members harassed the person who recorded the video. One of them tried to physically attack that person, whilst another made threats to beat him up and slap him. The management also threatened to ban him from the temple. This incident has been reported to the Leicester Police.

-15th July 2016: After the video had been viewed over 10,000 times on YouTube, the management issued a wishy-washy and mostly irrelevant statement in the widely read Panjabi newspaper called ‘Des Pardes Weekly’ and on their Facebook page, which we have rubbished. To read the rebuttal, please see the ‘Updates’ section of our online petition, or go to:
https://www.change.org/p/leicester-sikhs-ban-racist-joginder-singh-from-guru-nanak-temple-leics-for-refusing-langar-to-non-sikhs/u/17290709

-20th July 2016: A management member slammed the main entrance door on the face of the person who recorded the video, which just missed him by 30 centimetres or so. Had the door hit him, he would have fallen down a flight of concrete stairs, with his 3.5-year-old daughter, who was in his arms at the time and they would likely have had broken bones. This incident has been reported to the Leicester Police.

-22nd July 2016: Leicester Police visited the temple and met with the management about the above-mentioned serious incidents.

-31st July 2016: The person who recorded the video and his family stopped attending the temple because they anticipated further victimization, after the management would learn about the serious complaints submitted to the Charity Commission.

-1st August 2016: Our Sikh temple is a registered charity (No. 254837). The congregation submitted a detailed complaint to the Charity Commission via email, on the basis of the charity harming people, being involved in illegal activity and not doing what it claims to do. Extracts of this complaint can be viewed in the ‘Updates’ section of our online petition page, or go to:
https://www.change.org/p/leicester-sikhs-ban-racist-joginder-singh-from-guru-nanak-temple-leics-for-refusing-langar-to-non-sikhs/u/17440922

Please contact the temple management on 0116 251 7460 and ask them:
Has the congregation been unreasonable by giving you over 1.5-years to resolve this serious matter?

Why have you ignored their verbal complaints, the Special Delivery letter, the online petition and the video footage uploaded onto YouTube?

Why is Joginder still working in the temple’s kitchen? Why have you ignored the Sikh temple members, who are the people that fully fund the charity?

Why have you harassed the person who recorded the video and threatened him with physical violence? Is it acceptable for a charity to act in such ways?

Why did a management member try to start an altercation with the same person on 20th July 2016, which could have resulted in him and his 3.5-year old daughter falling down a concrete staircase, causing serious bodily harm? Why victimize him for speaking up against racism?

Do you agree that if you had honored the congregation’s request to ban Joginder, when they sent you the letter and/or started the online petition in April 2016, Joginder wouldn’t have been working in the temple’s kitchen on 1st July 2016, for the video to be made? Evidently, the management is fully responsible for the video and any subsequent defamation that it has caused.

Why are you now misleading non-English speaking congregation members, by trashing the person who recorded the video, by stating that he has intentionally defamed Sikhs and Sikhism? What evidence do you have to support your claim?

How can the Charity Commission ignore all of the facts and evidence to simply let you off with a firm warning, after you’ve ruined the reputation of the Sikh temple (charity) and that of Sikh temples (similar charities) in general, because of your gross negligence, in handling racism and anti-Sikh behavior on charity premises, over a prolonged 1.5-year period?

Do you agree that Non-Sikhs, especially homeless people who experience challenging life circumstances can be mentally and emotionally disturbed, after being subjected to racial discrimination, in the same way that the homeless White woman was visibly disturbed in that video?

How can a charity do absolutely nothing about an employee/volunteer harming vulnerable members of the public in this way? Do the spiritual teachings of Sikhism endorse such behavior? Obviously not, then why has it been sanctioned by you, on charity premises for over 1.5-years?

If the Charity Commission allows you to continue managing the charity, how can it justify being an effective regulator?

The congregation believes that the Charity Commission must take strict action against the management. The key-decision makers and all Trustees should be permanently banned from standing in future temple elections. Appropriate action needs to be taken to prevent this kind of thing happening again at our temple and at other Sikh temples, across the UK.

“I’m a Sikh and I feel that this issue has defamed Sikhs and Sikhism”
Referring to the video that we uploaded onto YouTube, if the management ignores our verbal complaints, letter and online petition over a 1.5-year period and if Joginder is caught in the act, why shouldn’t we use social media to show the truth of how food is being wrongly denied to eligible Non-Sikhs, because of the racist Joginder and the useless management?

By starting the online petition, uploading the video and by publishing this statement in the Leicester Mercury, we haven’t defamed Sikhs/Sikhism. SIKHS started the online petition and a SIKH man filmed the video. Anyone who reads our petition page will know within 30 seconds that SIKHS are against a Sikh man, who refuses food to Non-Sikhs at their temple, which is against Sikhism.

Non-Sikhs can clearly see that we (Sikhs) are true to our religion, as we practice what we preach. Sikhs believe in equality and guess what? They’re campaigning against a Sikh man, who is refusing food to eligible Non-Sikhs. How does this defame Sikhs/Sikhism? Non-Sikhs, who understand the petition and why we have uploaded the video and published this statement, will never conclude that Sikhs are racist and/or bad people. Many Non-Sikhs have already supported our petition.

If you’re a Sikh and Non-Sikhs ask you about that video, please respond by saying:

“Sikhs are completely against racism. Sikhs started the petition and uploaded the video onto YouTube because we will not tolerate racism in our temples, as it goes against the institution of Langar and the spiritual teachings of Sikhism. Eligible Sikhs and Non-Sikhs are always welcome at our temple, Joginder isn’t. Please help us to permanently ban him, by signing and sharing the online petition”.

We appeal to the Sikh Community
The management has misguided many congregation members by stating that the person who recorded the video has intentionally defamed Sikhs, Sikhism and our temple.

Given that many congregation members are unable to read or understand English and/or because they don’t use the Internet, they don’t know about the Special Delivery letter and the online petition, hence they have wrongly accepted that this was a one-off/first-time incident that was filmed and then irresponsibly shared on the Internet, as the dishonest management is now claiming.

The red-faced management is hiding the fact that they have ignored serious complaints about Joginder’s racist actions and his anti-Sikh behaviour, over a 1.5-year period, which we have sufficiently evidenced to the Charity Commission.

We appeal to all Sikhs to explain the crux of the matter to Panjabi speaking Sikhs, so that they understand the truth and are not mislead by the baseless claims of the deceitful management.

Our message to Non-Sikhs
Sikhism teaches us to fight against injustice and wrongdoing, even if the perpetrators are Sikhs and the victims are Non-Sikhs, as is the case here.

It’s a fact that racists like Joginder exist in all communities. We could easily have kept this serious issue out of the public domain, by not starting the online petition over 3 months ago and by not uploading the video onto YouTube last month, but how could we betray our conscience and our spiritual teachings?

How can we ignore needy, hungry and homeless Non-Sikhs being disrespected at our temple?

How can we allow Joginder to disgrace the institution of Langar and to defame our temple and our Guru’s name?

Honestly speaking, we are quite embarrassed by all of this, but ensuring that Non-Sikhs are treated with equal respect and kindness at our temples is paramount to us, as the founder of our faith, to whom we are answerable in spirit, would have it no other way.

Please don’t think of Sikhs as bad people. We’ve done all of this for Non-Sikhs, who we consider to be our spiritual brothers and sisters. We deeply and sincerely apologize to all the Non-Sikhs who have been mistreated by Joginder.

Please sign and share our petition
To view and sign our online petition, please search Change.org for:
‘Ban racist Joginder Singh from Guru Nanak Temple (Leics) for refusing food to Non-Sikhs’, or go to:

https://www.change.org/p/leicester-sikhs-ban-racist-joginder-singh-from-guru-nanak-temple-leics-for-refusing-langar-to-non-sikhs

For further information and updates, please see the ‘Updates’ section, by scrolling down the above linked page.

The Sikh Community (Leicester)”


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