We have here a report on Sikh extremism in Canada which has startling similarities with the situation of Islamist extremism in the UK. Ujjal Dosanjh, a former Canadian Liberal Party cabinet minister says Sikh extremism is on the rise in British Columbia, Canada. He goes on to say that a distorted multiculturalism has allowed Sikh extremism to take root “in the name of diversity”. Furthermore, he says that the militancy is worse now than a generation ago when Sikh extremists blew up an Air India flight, killing 329 mostly Canadian people.
Mr Dosanjh says separatist extremism is more entrenced in some Canadian Sikh communities than in Punjab, where the Khalistan movement – named after creation of a separate Sikh state – originated.
Of course, we are living through the same phenomena here in the UK, except that here the counterpart radical extremist groups, feted and supported by liberal forces in exactly the same way that Dosanjh describes happening in Canada, are Islamist .
Some organisations, such as the World Sikh Organisation of Canada, have angrily rejected Dosanjh’s accusations:
Balpreet Singh Boparai, the organization’s legal counsel, defended the right of the Sikh diaspora to advocate for better conditions in India, including calling for a separate homeland.
“We reject violence,” Mr. Boparai said. “But does advocating for Khalistan through peaceful means, through dialogue, through information, or advocating for the self-determination of Sikhs in India – is this extremism? I would say no.”
But Ujjal Dosanjh pointedly blames “Canada’s polite brand of multiculturalism” for giving extremist views credibility and the space to nurture old grudges brought from their homelands. But the report also makes startling recognition, often heard here, that Canada has ‘failed to instill its own values’ on new immigrants.
“I think what we are doing to this country is that this idea of multiculturalism has been completely distorted, turned on its head to essentially claim that anything anyone believes – no matter how ridiculous and outrageous it might be – is okay and acceptable in the name of diversity.
“Where we have gone wrong in this pursuit of multiculturalism is that there is no adherence to core values, the core Canadian values, which [are]: That you don’t threaten people who differ with you; you don’t go attack them personally; you don’t terrorize the populace.”
“I think Canadians need to engage in this cultural diversity debate,” he said. “And we actually have to say to each other: ‘Hey what you’re doing is wrong. What you’re doing here is right.’ We should stop being politically correct and have a debate.”
Most predictably Dosanjh has been personally maligned, physically assaulted and labelled a self-hating Sikh (in spite of being Sikh himself) and an “Uncle Tom” by extremist pro-Khalistan voices in the Canadian Sikh community.
This story is the culmination of two scandals that erupted this month, after Dosanjh had protested about the use of images of the terrorists of Flight 182 and the assassinators of Indira Gandhi were used prominently in the Sikh festival parade last week.
However, some voices support Mr Dosanjh and state that he is making a brave and responsible intervention by highlighting the growth of Sikh extremism:
Michel Juneau-Katsuya, a former senior intelligence analyst with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and president of the Northgate Group, said the parade incident indicates Canadians need to pay attention to what’s happening.
The security expert said the Canadian government has long practised the “speak no evil, see no evil policy,” when it comes to terrorism within the country and that leaves residents in the dark.
“The Canadian public is so naive they’re almost stupid when it comes to security issues.”
Mr. Juneau-Katsuya noted that it took the federal government many years to declare the Tamil Tigers a terrorist group, and in the meantime, members of the group terrorized Canada’s Tamil community and sent extorted millions to support the quest for an independent homeland in Sri Lanka.
And there are more radicals and angry people coming into the country because terrorism laws in other countries are forcing them out, Mr. Juneau-Katsuya said.
Terrorism, he said, isn’t just about lighting the fuse of a bomb, but about intimidation, blackmail, physical aggression and bullying.
Mr. Juneau-Katsuya said Mr. Dosanjh’s outspoken condemnation of parade organizers is “courageous.”
“You couldn’t have a better witness or better testimony.”
Mr. Dosanjh was viciously beaten more than two decades ago by Sikh extremists because he made a plea for peace within the community after the June 1984 Indian army raid on the Golden Temple in India.