Will the Revolution be Televised? Sikhs and the Media

So, Im a fan of Waris Singh Ahluwalia. It should be no surprise hes an actor who makes incredible jewelry and Im all about diverse talents. Last year, with the release ofwaris2.jpg The Darjeeling Limited, he did an interview and responded to being honored for his positive portrayal of Sikhs in the media. I thought it was significant,

I don’t want to be honored that much. I really don’t. I’m humbled and utterly confused to be put in this position. All these galas and fundraisers, they’re really important–especially after 9/11, when we’re seen as one of the major religions, and nobody knows who we are. In terms of the Sikh community, we’ll raise our families, go to work, pay our taxes, be American citizens, and that [should be] enough. Guess what? That’s not enough.

Why is it not enough? Regardless of how citizen-like we act, will wecontinue to fight the typecasts and stereotypes the media has imposed on an unfamiliar community?

The Sikh community is highly conscious of how we are represented. Waris’ comments are not new, but they point out that he understands how individuals opinions are socially constructed by the media. Many of us have experienced how untimely images shown on the television screen in conjunction with Sikhs creates a backlash against our community. And the need to establish legal response teams to address these concerns has only solidified the lack of trust many Sikhs feel for the medias portrayal of our community.

Sikh temple terror links alleged, or B.C. to watch charities for links to terror groups are unfortunate, yet common headlines in the newspapers in Canada. It is clear that this type of, often sensationalized media attention, impacts relationships between minority groups and the larger community. A survey once pointed out that Sikhs were the least-liked religious minority group, in hypo-Sikh Montreal. This type of media attention does not seem to be going away, so what is our reaction to this? Is it simply to create our own media outlets through Punjabi Sikh newspapers and websites or should we be taking a more active role to ensure accurate representations of our community are portrayed in the mainstream media?

The Sikh Canadian Action Alliance is a new organization which aims to respond to the inaccurate portrayal of Sikhs in the media. A statement from the organization reads,

As we know, the media play a very significant role in shaping public opinion around specific issues but also around the communities in general. While we can shape what those around us think of Sikhs, the vast majority of people judge us only by what they see on TV, hear on the radio or read about us in newspapers and online. These opinions translate into political views that influence public policy. We must work together to improve the accuracy and accountability of Sikh media coverage and the portrayal of Sikhs.

Will it be organizations like this that will help quash negative images and representations of Sikhs? What role do we as individuals play in educating the community and responding to inaccuracies we observe in the media? Are we doing enough?


bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark
tabs-top


135 Responses to “Will the Revolution be Televised? Sikhs and the Media”

  1. Jay says:

    P Singh

    3. You have absolutely no credible evidence (so sorry, but your consipiracy theories carry zero weight) tying any Sikh group to this murder.

    You are in denial about the issue of extremism and the pressures affecting Sikh women in the diaspora. The only reason why nobody has been convicted of the murderous violence perpetrated by Sikh extremist groups is because they are murderous and violent and threaten, intimidate and even murder their critics. Kim Bolan is not the root of the problem. She is a symptom of it all.

    Domestic violence, honour crimes are very real problems in the Sikh community. Girls being beaten up and even killed for daring to choose a life partner outside their 'group'. Married women being murdered. There was a spate of murders last year that Wally Uppal talked about. Honour killings grow out of that culture of deep rooted misogyny and violence.

  2. Jay says:

    P Singh

    3. You have absolutely no credible evidence (so sorry, but your consipiracy theories carry zero weight) tying any Sikh group to this murder.

    You are in denial about the issue of extremism and the pressures affecting Sikh women in the diaspora. The only reason why nobody has been convicted of the murderous violence perpetrated by Sikh extremist groups is because they are murderous and violent and threaten, intimidate and even murder their critics. Kim Bolan is not the root of the problem. She is a symptom of it all.

    Domestic violence, honour crimes are very real problems in the Sikh community. Girls being beaten up and even killed for daring to choose a life partner outside their ‘group’. Married women being murdered. There was a spate of murders last year that Wally Uppal talked about. Honour killings grow out of that culture of deep rooted misogyny and violence.

  3. Jay says:

    This is from a journalistic investigation into the issue by the BBC published today. Any similar investigation carried out in Canada would reveal something similar.

    The report is by a Sikh journalist called Amardeep Bassey, by the way, so you won't be able to claim some kind of prejudice or bias in the situation. Given that Sikhs are discriminated against and stereotyped all the time and suffer for being racially caricatured it is an absolute disgrace that this is going on. Click on the link below.

    Sikh separatists 'funded from UK'

    ++++++++++

    (This is a separate article from the one I linked to above from BBC News. This is the introduction to the radio programme broadcast this evening on BBC Radio)

    Britain has been warned of a new terror threat from Sikh extremists who are forging links with Islamist terror outfits linked to Al Qaida.

    The revelation comes after the FBI compiled a Watchlist of American and British-based Sikhs who they believe are agitating for an independent Sikh homeland. Names on the watchlist include US-based Sikh activists who are regular visitors to Pakistan which is believed to be backing the movement for Sikh soveriegnty.

    US authorities are concerned that Sikh radicals are being trained alongside Kashmiri militants at mobile terror camps run by the Pakistan secret service the ISI. Most of the main Sikh terror group leaders, who feature on the Indian Government’s Most Wanted lists, are based in Pakistan from where they occassionally deliver fiery speeches to supporters over the internet.

    An FBI source said: “Though the Sikh groups are relatively ill-equipped and not very effective in their own right we have evidence to suggest that they have the ability to tap into the resources of pan-Islamist groups like Al Qaida. “The link has been established for a number of years now but recent incidents point to a hardening of these connections.”

    He added: “The British authorities have been made aware of our interest in certain individuals residing in the UK who may have connections to Sikh terror groups based in Pakistan.”

    Last October six people were killed and 32 injured when a bomb exploded in a packed cinema in Ludhiana in Punjab. According to Punjab Police the alleged mastermind Gurpreet Singh is a Sikh militant who had been trained in Pakistan from where he had smuggled explosives across the border into Punjab.

    Dr Ajay Sahni, from the independent Institute of Conflict Management in New Delhi said interrogation of Sikh terror suspects revealed that British Sikh recruits had also visited the training camps. He said: “We are aware that at least about 100 Sikh radical elements, just from Europe and the UK alone, have trained in Pakistan-based terror camps

    “The presumption is that they’re training as a reserve to act in India when the opportunity arises.”

    He added that Kashmiri militant groups like Lashkar e Toyba (LET), who have established links with Al Qaida, have worked closely with Sikh militants.

    He added: “The co-oepartion between the Sikh militants and Al Qaida can only be opportunistic and cannot be a permanent settlement.

    “It is only that at this juncture they see a common enemy in India.”

    Britain is home to more than 700,000 Sikhs, the vast majority of whom are well-integrated respectable members of the community. The call for an independent Sikh homeland called Khalistan, gained momentum in 1984 when the Indian army stormed the Sikh’s holiest shrine the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

    There followed a decade-long Sikh insurgency which included bringing down a trans-atlantic airliner which until 9-11 was the single deadliest terrorist attack involving aircraft. In 2001 the Home Office banned two UK-based Sikh organisations, the International Sikh Youth Federation and Babbar Khalsa International, under the Terrorism Act 2000.

    [ link ]

    You can listen to the programme here

    So, the FBI in America is onto this problem, and yet some people will still say there is no problem. It's only a matter of time until these networks are ripped up by American and British authorities and when it does it will be interesting to see exactly where they run to. Will there still be denial? And what will those people do then, declare a holy war on the FBI and America?

    Please wake up people.

  4. Jay says:

    This is from a journalistic investigation into the issue by the BBC published today. Any similar investigation carried out in Canada would reveal something similar.

    The report is by a Sikh journalist called Amardeep Bassey, by the way, so you won’t be able to claim some kind of prejudice or bias in the situation. Given that Sikhs are discriminated against and stereotyped all the time and suffer for being racially caricatured it is an absolute disgrace that this is going on. Click on the link below.

    Sikh separatists ‘funded from UK’

    ++++++++++

    (This is a separate article from the one I linked to above from BBC News. This is the introduction to the radio programme broadcast this evening on BBC Radio)

    Britain has been warned of a new terror threat from Sikh extremists who are forging links with Islamist terror outfits linked to Al Qaida.

    The revelation comes after the FBI compiled a Watchlist of American and British-based Sikhs who they believe are agitating for an independent Sikh homeland. Names on the watchlist include US-based Sikh activists who are regular visitors to Pakistan which is believed to be backing the movement for Sikh soveriegnty.

    US authorities are concerned that Sikh radicals are being trained alongside Kashmiri militants at mobile terror camps run by the Pakistan secret service the ISI. Most of the main Sikh terror group leaders, who feature on the Indian Governments Most Wanted lists, are based in Pakistan from where they occassionally deliver fiery speeches to supporters over the internet.

    An FBI source said: Though the Sikh groups are relatively ill-equipped and not very effective in their own right we have evidence to suggest that they have the ability to tap into the resources of pan-Islamist groups like Al Qaida. The link has been established for a number of years now but recent incidents point to a hardening of these connections.

    He added: The British authorities have been made aware of our interest in certain individuals residing in the UK who may have connections to Sikh terror groups based in Pakistan.

    Last October six people were killed and 32 injured when a bomb exploded in a packed cinema in Ludhiana in Punjab. According to Punjab Police the alleged mastermind Gurpreet Singh is a Sikh militant who had been trained in Pakistan from where he had smuggled explosives across the border into Punjab.

    Dr Ajay Sahni, from the independent Institute of Conflict Management in New Delhi said interrogation of Sikh terror suspects revealed that British Sikh recruits had also visited the training camps. He said: We are aware that at least about 100 Sikh radical elements, just from Europe and the UK alone, have trained in Pakistan-based terror camps

    The presumption is that theyre training as a reserve to act in India when the opportunity arises.

    He added that Kashmiri militant groups like Lashkar e Toyba (LET), who have established links with Al Qaida, have worked closely with Sikh militants.
    He added: The co-oepartion between the Sikh militants and Al Qaida can only be opportunistic and cannot be a permanent settlement.

    It is only that at this juncture they see a common enemy in India.

    Britain is home to more than 700,000 Sikhs, the vast majority of whom are well-integrated respectable members of the community. The call for an independent Sikh homeland called Khalistan, gained momentum in 1984 when the Indian army stormed the Sikhs holiest shrine the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

    There followed a decade-long Sikh insurgency which included bringing down a trans-atlantic airliner which until 9-11 was the single deadliest terrorist attack involving aircraft. In 2001 the Home Office banned two UK-based Sikh organisations, the International Sikh Youth Federation and Babbar Khalsa International, under the Terrorism Act 2000.

    [ link ]

    You can listen to the programme here

    So, the FBI in America is onto this problem, and yet some people will still say there is no problem. It’s only a matter of time until these networks are ripped up by American and British authorities and when it does it will be interesting to see exactly where they run to. Will there still be denial? And what will those people do then, declare a holy war on the FBI and America?

    Please wake up people.

  5. P.Singh says:

    Jay on Feb 26, 2008 at 5:56 pm | Quote

    P Singh

    You are in denial about the issue of extremism and the pressures affecting Sikh women in the diaspora. The only reason why nobody has been convicted of the murderous violence perpetrated by Sikh extremist groups is because they are murderous and violent and threaten, intimidate and even murder their critics.

    You are conflating two streams of argument into one, and I find that disingenuous. I have zero difficulty believing that many Sikh women face enormous pressures in the diaspora – this does not tie in with your argument about Sikh extremism.

    Really? It is intimidation by these Sikh extremist groups that keeps their murderous activities in the diaspora from being exposed? Yet another statement from the book of Bolan, and yet another statement you simply cannot substantiate.

    In a world where top-ranking Hells Angels go down to sting operations, where 'big brothers' of the Triad get nailed by the cops, and where Mafia mob bosses get ratted out and convicted, DAMN – these Sikh extremists must have some crazy intimidation powers….they must be some uber-power in the criminal world, maybe even the Kingpin under which all these lesser Mafias and Triads operate….

    In case it isn't clear, I find your comment ridiculous. Our police forces and Crown have abundant capacity to investigate and prosecute murderous activity by so-called Sikh extremist groups, if indeed there was this epidemic of murderous activity.

  6. P.Singh says:

    Jay on Feb 26, 2008 at 5:56 pm | Quote

    P Singh
    You are in denial about the issue of extremism and the pressures affecting Sikh women in the diaspora. The only reason why nobody has been convicted of the murderous violence perpetrated by Sikh extremist groups is because they are murderous and violent and threaten, intimidate and even murder their critics.

    You are conflating two streams of argument into one, and I find that disingenuous. I have zero difficulty believing that many Sikh women face enormous pressures in the diaspora – this does not tie in with your argument about Sikh extremism.

    Really? It is intimidation by these Sikh extremist groups that keeps their murderous activities in the diaspora from being exposed? Yet another statement from the book of Bolan, and yet another statement you simply cannot substantiate.

    In a world where top-ranking Hells Angels go down to sting operations, where ‘big brothers’ of the Triad get nailed by the cops, and where Mafia mob bosses get ratted out and convicted, DAMN – these Sikh extremists must have some crazy intimidation powers….they must be some uber-power in the criminal world, maybe even the Kingpin under which all these lesser Mafias and Triads operate….

    In case it isn’t clear, I find your comment ridiculous. Our police forces and Crown have abundant capacity to investigate and prosecute murderous activity by so-called Sikh extremist groups, if indeed there was this epidemic of murderous activity.

  7. P.Singh says:

    Jay wrote on Feb 26, 2008 at 7:34 pm | Quote

    The report is by a Sikh journalist called Amardeep Bassey, by the way, so you won’t be able to claim some kind of prejudice or bias in the situation. Given that Sikhs are discriminated against and stereotyped all the time and suffer for being racially caricatured it is an absolute disgrace that this is going on. Click on the link below.

    Being a Sikh, or claiming to be one, hardly provides any merit for producing unbiased reports nor does it mitigate against prejudice or hatred towards other Sikhs. I'll put forward KPS Gill as one reference, and 'Sikh' police officers in the Punjab as another.

    However, for argument's sake, I don't have an issue with the reporter. While the report points to there being a relatively small number of Sikhs involved in such activity, it hardly proves the unsubstantiated allegations you have made regarding Tara Hayer.

    followed a decade-long Sikh insurgency which included bringing down a trans-atlantic airliner which until 9-11 was the single deadliest terrorist attack involving aircraft.

    …and the report loses credibility with that statement. After 20 plus years of investigation, there is no evidence Sikhs were responsible for the Air India bombing, yet the above statement is presented as fact? I wonder how many other presented facts are actually facts?

  8. P.Singh says:

    Jay wrote on Feb 26, 2008 at 7:34 pm | Quote

    The report is by a Sikh journalist called Amardeep Bassey, by the way, so you wont be able to claim some kind of prejudice or bias in the situation. Given that Sikhs are discriminated against and stereotyped all the time and suffer for being racially caricatured it is an absolute disgrace that this is going on. Click on the link below.

    Being a Sikh, or claiming to be one, hardly provides any merit for producing unbiased reports nor does it mitigate against prejudice or hatred towards other Sikhs. I’ll put forward KPS Gill as one reference, and ‘Sikh’ police officers in the Punjab as another.

    However, for argument’s sake, I don’t have an issue with the reporter. While the report points to there being a relatively small number of Sikhs involved in such activity, it hardly proves the unsubstantiated allegations you have made regarding Tara Hayer.

    followed a decade-long Sikh insurgency which included bringing down a trans-atlantic airliner which until 9-11 was the single deadliest terrorist attack involving aircraft.

    …and the report loses credibility with that statement. After 20 plus years of investigation, there is no evidence Sikhs were responsible for the Air India bombing, yet the above statement is presented as fact? I wonder how many other presented facts are actually facts?

  9. P.Singh says:

    Jay, you wrote:

    Domestic violence, honour crimes are very real problems in the Sikh community. Girls being beaten up and even killed for daring to choose a life partner outside their ‘group’. Married women being murdered. There was a spate of murders last year that Wally Uppal talked about. Honour killings grow out of that culture of deep rooted misogyny and violence.

    As mentioned before, I have no difficulty believing patriarchial belief systems in punjabi culture lead to unacceptable, disgusting abuse of many women in our community. I was there when Wally Uppal was giving his speech on the issue a few years back; I was there at the town-hall meetings; I was there at the gurdwaras, when the issue was being discussed; and I'm part of a group still doing our little bit to help in this matter, now that it is not a hot topic in the news.

    All the above aside, my issue with your comments revolved around your statement that honor killings are a problem in the community. I do not agree with that statement. Domestic violence, sexist attitudes are indeed problems, but honor killings are rare and isolated cases, with little prevalence in the community. Even one killing is too much, and the roots of such a killing definitely need to be addressed; however, there is no spate of such killings that can be referenced in the diaspora. By exaggerating such phenomenon, it takes away from the very real problems that do exist.

  10. P.Singh says:

    Jay, you wrote:

    Domestic violence, honour crimes are very real problems in the Sikh community. Girls being beaten up and even killed for daring to choose a life partner outside their group. Married women being murdered. There was a spate of murders last year that Wally Uppal talked about. Honour killings grow out of that culture of deep rooted misogyny and violence.

    As mentioned before, I have no difficulty believing patriarchial belief systems in punjabi culture lead to unacceptable, disgusting abuse of many women in our community. I was there when Wally Uppal was giving his speech on the issue a few years back; I was there at the town-hall meetings; I was there at the gurdwaras, when the issue was being discussed; and I’m part of a group still doing our little bit to help in this matter, now that it is not a hot topic in the news.

    All the above aside, my issue with your comments revolved around your statement that honor killings are a problem in the community. I do not agree with that statement. Domestic violence, sexist attitudes are indeed problems, but honor killings are rare and isolated cases, with little prevalence in the community. Even one killing is too much, and the roots of such a killing definitely need to be addressed; however, there is no spate of such killings that can be referenced in the diaspora. By exaggerating such phenomenon, it takes away from the very real problems that do exist.

  11. […] was a little hesitant to post about this, especially considering the numerous discussions we’ve had on this blog related to the negative image of Sikhs in the media. While a big fan […]

  12. […] discussions about the potentialcommodification of religious symbols and also about problematicmedia representation of groups of people. So, I thought that therecent hoopla over the questionable photo shoot in […]

  13. […] at TLH, we’re all about addressing images that misrepresent Sikhs but, for me, this petition is creating more divisions within our […]

  14. Hindu punjabi says:

    U sikhs are just like muslims, you murder sikhs and hindus and then cover it up by calling every anti khaliban anti sikh. Cant u see the simmilarities between the khalistanis and the taliban. You kill your political opposition, you force sikhi on people. like when the muslim women are whipped for not wearing a hejab. U will use ak47 in guru jis hazur to torture people. Like baljit kaur who was gna assasina te bindrawala. Another thing, you khalistanis blow up air india 182 and deney it isnt it obvious hu did it? "i promise i will not rest untill we kill 50k hindus" bagri coward did it . Anuva thing u khalistanis shot ppl in busses. Farmers. Gyani partap singh. Hindus n sikhs. Its obvious. Y else wer ther lakhs of ak47s in the harimandir. U slander nihangs. What have u khalistanis gained 4m demanding khalistan? U HAVE DUN MORE DAMAGE THAN GUD! How many mre wud b made shaheed? 1984 wasnt even partition and 3k sikhs died!! Think if india did partition again ! 3million wud die. Khalistan is anti sikh. And its al abt money. Im a hindu punjabi and proud. And im proud of sikhs. I respect the gurus. And the dasam bani. And the nihangs.

  15. U sikhs are just like muslims, you murder sikhs and hindus and then cover it up by calling every anti khaliban anti sikh. Cant u see the simmilarities between the khalistanis and the taliban. You kill your political opposition, you force sikhi on people. like when the muslim women are whipped for not wearing a hejab. U will use ak47 in guru jis hazur to torture people. Like baljit kaur who was gna assasina te bindrawala. Another thing, you khalistanis blow up air india 182 and deney it isnt it obvious hu did it? “i promise i will not rest untill we kill 50k hindus” bagri coward did it . Anuva thing u khalistanis shot ppl in busses. Farmers. Gyani partap singh. Hindus n sikhs. Its obvious. Y else wer ther lakhs of ak47s in the harimandir. U slander nihangs. What have u khalistanis gained 4m demanding khalistan? U HAVE DUN MORE DAMAGE THAN GUD! How many mre wud b made shaheed? 1984 wasnt even partition and 3k sikhs died!! Think if india did partition again ! 3million wud die. Khalistan is anti sikh. And its al abt money. Im a hindu punjabi and proud. And im proud of sikhs. I respect the gurus. And the dasam bani. And the nihangs.

Leave a Reply


We love hearing from our visitors, so please do leave your comments! No profanity, name calling, or discrimination, please - we try to keep The Langar Hall a clean, open, and hate-free zone. We reserve the right to edit or remove inappropriate comments.