By Sunil Narula
It was a deadly Sunday last weekend in Wisconsin where a crazed shooter gunned down six people at a Gurdwara in Oak Creek.
A wave of sympathy and compassion gripped Canada where thousands of people from every religion got together in temples, churches and gurudwaras to express their disgust at the incident where they read out messages of tolerance, hope and brotherhood.
In Surrey separate functions and candle light vigils were held at the Gurdwara, Laxmi Narayan Temple and elsewhere. Similar function was also organised at Ross Street Gurudwara in Vancouver.
Almost everyone agreed that more needs to be done to ensure that such an incident does not happen again.
But in the middle of all this sympathy there was also this person Dave Foran who sent an email to Sher-e-Punjab Radio (in Surrey) in which he wrote Sikhs needed to respect the ‘Canadian way of living,’ and then stood by his racist comments when he was speaking with a host on radio.
Dave Foran said on radio, “There’s nothing wrong with it if everybody kind of blends in and looks the same, but these people don’t do that, they bring that religious thing with them. I have to look at it. Other people have to look at it. I’m not the only one here and I don’t believe I’m prejudiced. I know lots of people from India. They blend in. They wear blue jeans. I don’t want to live in India.”
In the email, Foran wrote he does not condone violence, but he believes ‘Sikhs are disrespectful’ because they don’t ‘blend in’ after moving to Canada.
He goes on to say, ‘your long beards, turbans, clothes and waddling as you follow each other down the street is enough to make us sick. Lose the traditions or stay in India.’
Speaking with The Voice, the owner of Sher-e-Punjab radio station Dale Badh said Foran’s comments are offensive because –as someone who’s lived in Canada since 1975 — he’s still not considered ‘Canadian.’
“How are we disrespectful? It was very disturbing to me when I read that email and it still bothers me because what we’ve gone through in Wisconsin, what we’ve gone through after 9-11”
Badh says he does not wear a turban or grow a beard, yet people keep calling him Indo-Canadian or South Asian, instead of simply Canadian.
Vinay Sharma general secretary of Laxmi Narayan Temple in Surrey said rather than finding fault with these stray and deranged individuals it is better to mix and mingle more with other communities to make them aware of our traditions and culture.