A STRING of Leicester organisations have signed an open letter calling for Priti Patel to be removed as Home Secretary, following “appalling” comments she has made against the Sikh community.
The letter has been signed by 230 Gurdwaras, Sikh and non-Sikh organisations, including six in Leicester.
These include the city’s Shri Guru Ravidass Temple and the Gurdwara Shri Guru Dashmesh Sahib.
The action comes off the back of comments made by Home Secretary Priti Patel during a speech she gave to the Heritage Foundation in the US coinciding with Gurpurb.
Although the speech was made back on November 22, its content has only recently come to light.
In the speech, Ms Patel spoke about banning Hamas and proscribing four extreme right-wing groups, but then went on to state: “Sikh separatist extremism has also caused considerable tensions in recent years.”
“This reference to Sikhs is deeply offensive and has alarmed the law abiding British Sikh community,” states the open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which can be read in full at: http://sikhfeduk.com/campaigns/Open-Letter-To-Prime-Minister
“This is not how every other UK MP describes British Sikhs who are a role model community making a massive positive contribution, especially during the pandemic,” it adds.
“This speech came within months of a failed and fundamentally flawed extradition sanctioned by Priti Patel of three innocent British born Sikhs to India who would have faced torture and possibly the death penalty.
“We are appalled with the Home Secretary’s warped view of the British Sikh community and deeply disturbed she is conflicted in her role as Home Secretary given her known connections and appreciation of the right wing BJP Indian government.”
Priti Patel has also come under fire from the Sikh community after she failed to recognise the birthday of Guru Nanak Dev Ji on November 19, which is an important day for the Sikh community.
Claudia Webbe MP for Leicester East was one of the first to write to Boris Johnson about the matter.
“Many in the Sikh community have concluded that the Home Secretary is deliberately targeting Sikh activists and organisations,” she said.
“The reference made to Sikhs has deeply alarmed the British Sikh community who are a role model community making a massive positive contribution, which has been visible every day and especially during the pandemic.”
The Home Office and Tory peer Lord Rami Ranger, the chair of the British Sikh Association, have defended Patel’s comments. Ranger said: “Every British citizen who has taken an oath of alignment to Her Majesty the Queen must be loyal and work hard to become an asset to the nation. Engaging in criminal activities against any nation is punishable by law.”
The UK Government says it is “committed to tackling those who spread views that promote hatred against individuals and communities and work closely with international partners to tackle extremism in all its forms”.
On Patel’s reference to extremism, a spokesperson said: “The Government supports the universal right to freedom of expression. However, there is a balance to be struck and we are clear that this must be done within the law.”