Cohesive Communities: Bridging Divides Between Muslim and Sikh communities:
Faith Matters investigated tensions amongst young Sikh and Muslim men which threatened to create local and national hotspots of tension. Conducted in 2008, it took Sikhs and Muslims to Corrymeela in Northern Ireland to explore some of the issues causing tension in some parts of the East and West Midlands and to look at commonalities between the two communities. Faith Matters was aware of rising tensions and even in 2008, it was clear that a handful of Sikhs were looking to join groups like the British National Party (and later the English Defence League), groups that were attempting to woo young Sikhs on the premise that they supposedly had historical angsts against Muslims.
What was clear was that issues of identity were affecting both Sikhs and Muslims and whilst both communities had been active in the ati-racist movements of the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s, young Sikhs felt that their identity had to be defined against Muslims, rather than through any ‘organic’ movement within the community. Therefore, Muslims who were historically defined as the other, were further caricatured post 9/11 and 7/7 on the basis that Sikhs were being attacked since ‘Muslims’ were the real problem. This twisted narrative did not take into account the fact that those who had attacked and killed Sikhs, thought that they were Muslims and that Muslims had also stood in solidarity with Sikh communities against these anti-Muslim attacks which also had strong undertones of prejudice attached to them. Furthermore, leaflets distributed in Derby and Leicester and attributed by some Sikhs to Al Muhajiroun were then used to support the narrative that Muslims (in general) were looking to convert Sikhs. Allied to this, strong residual feelings that Muslims want to convert Sikh women, has led to small groups of morality police within some Sikh groups breaking up interfaith relationships and suggesting that the Sikh women have been brainwashed. Evidence on such cases to the Police have not been provided.
A summary of the work of Faith Matters on these narratives can be found through the following reports:
Cohesive Communities Report: https://faith-matters.org/images/stories/cohesive_community_report090908.pdf
The Adab Report: https://faith-matters.org/images/stories/publications/The_Adab_Respect_Research_Programme.pdf
Our primary reason for this work is to try and improve relations between both faith communities at a time when the Far Right, including the English Defence League, are trying to play on differences. The EDL are no friends of Sikh communities. Nor are they friends of other faiths, nor of Christianity, which they have tried to hijack. The EDL remain a threat to our country, our values and our freedoms. They are a national threat to our futures!