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This Press Release may be read online at: http://unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-22-10-2009-00.html

Press Release: 22nd October 2009                                 8th Katik (Samvat 541 Nanakshahi)

Press Release

SIKHS Complain to BBC Trust for Misuse of Sikh Insignia

 
  The Khanda, a Sikh Religious Insignia
 

Questions Put to the BBC in the UNITED SIKHS letter

  1. What, if any, checks did the BBC news reporter and producer make to ascertain the nature and significance of the Khanda to the Sikh community, before it was used?
  2. What was the reason for using the Khanda in the report? Have you have used the Cross or the Crescent and Star whenever you report on Christians and Muslims committing offences? 
  3. Why was it necessary to mention the Sikh religion in a crime report and why did the producer allow the link?
  4. What training does the BBC provide its staff to familiarise them with religious insignia so that there is no abuse that could lead to community tensions?
  5. Does the BBC accept that the irresponsible use of the Khanda in the said news report could increase community tensions and that it can lead to incitement of religious hatred?
  6. What measures will be taken to appease the Sikh community so that the said report, is not misconstrued by the Sikh community as a deliberate attempt to insult them?
  7. Will the BBC produce specific positive documentaries on the Sikh faith to mitigate the effect of the insulting use of the Khanda and the insulting link of the crimes to the Sikh religion?
  8. How will the BBC ensure that this and such incidents do not recur?
  9. Is the BBC prepared to publically apologise to the Sikh community, without parading the offending news item to ensure that the rape victim would not have to relive the memory of the report nor that the Sikh community would be insulted again?

London, UK -  UNITED SIKHS complained today to  the Chairman of the BBC Trust for the misuse of the Khanda, a Sikh religious insignia, in BBC’s news reports last week on the sentencing of three men for heinous rape crimes.

The Sikh community had been very shocked and saddened by a BBC news report, on Friday 16th Oct 2009, about a Sikh rape victim from Wales, who had suffered prolonged abuse at the hands of those she would expect to be protected by, especially from such a young age.

It was, therefore, a double blow for the Sikh community when they saw the irresponsible use, by the BBC in the same news report, of a Sikh religious insignia, the Khanda, and the suggestion that the Sikh religion was connected to the crimes.

The news report had ‘victimised’ the entire Sikh community when the BBC used the Khanda, which is no less significant than the Cross, when they showed the convicted men, whose faces were darkened to protect the identity of the rape victim.

Further, the report, by innuendo, maligned the Sikh community as it made references to the Sikh religion, which had no relevance to the rape incidents. The community felt as though the reporter was trying to link the Sikh religion to the incidents.

The Khanda is a sacred symbol that symbolizes eternity and righteousness and is commonly seen at Sikh Gurdwaras and on the Sikh flag- the Nishaan Sahib.

“What was the reason for using the Khanda in the report? Have you have used the Cross or the Crescent and Star whenever you report on Christians and Muslims committing offences?” Mejindarpal Kaur, UNITED SIKHS legal director, asked in the letter to the BBC Trust. 

“Does the BBC accept that the irresponsible use of the Khanda in the said news report could increase community tension and that it can lead to incitement of religious hatred?” she said in the letter, which was also copied to the National Community Tension Team (NCTT), set up by the Association of  Chief  Police Officers, ACPO.  We have requested an urgent meeting with the BBC to address the Sikh community’s concerns.

On seeing the Khanda used in the above-mentioned way, the Sikh community had immediately started a national ‘text’ campaign to contact the BBC for the removal of the Khanda from the news item.

“We were contacted by hurt and irate Sikh youths who said something should be done about this outrageous misuse of the Khanda by the BBC in a flagrant disregard to the religious sensitivities of Sikhs,” said Mejindarpal Kaur.

UNITED SIKHS has asked the BBC to investigate how this irresponsible act was allowed to happen when Sikhs have lived in the UK for many years and the Khanda is a well known Sikh insignia. You may read the letter here.

You may read a previous press release on our efforts to create awareness and understanding of Sikh religious rights at http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PR-15-10-2009.html

UNITED SIKHS encourages the Sikh community to exercise their freedom of religion fearlessly, and to contact us with any problems, concerns, or incidents of discrimination.


Issued by:
Rishipal Singh
Director
UNITED SIKHS
Phone: 07709830442


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