London Sikhs Oppose Gandhi Statue

London Sikhs Oppose Gandhi Statue

The following is a March 5, 2008 press release from the UK Sikh Federation:

London – Mar. 5, 2008 – The Sikh Federation (UK) recently held a meeting with the Mayor of London at City Hall on the eve of the London Mayoral elections. The Mayor was presented with a silver shield by Bhai Amrik Singh and Bhai Narinderjit Singh, Chair and General Secretary of the Sikh Federation (UK) for the work he has done to support the Sikh community.

The Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, said the meeting was an london-sikhs-oppose-statueopportunity to discuss a range of issues that are of concern to the Sikh community, such as the right to practise one’s religion and Sikh identity. Opportunities offered by the Olympic Games for the Sikh community, including employment, training and skills, as well as the sporting and cultural benefits were also discussed.In a press release following the meeting the Mayor said: “It is important that the Sikh and other communities are properly represented at every level of government and it is essential that members of the Sikh community exercise their right to vote. Sikh organisations have a key role to play in promoting registration, whilst monitoring can help us assess progress made in terms of employment and representation. This is why the Greater London Authority gives the opportunity for employees to describe their ethnic as well as religious group as being Sikh on recruitment and monitoring forms. I am committed to ensuring that the Sikh community – as with others – is able to participate fully and benefit from London’s continuing success.”

The Mayor of London has backed the separate recognition and monitoring of Sikhs, the Sikh Identity Conference in 2006 and the first World Sikh Summit in September 2007. The Mayor has also backed campaigns to defend the freedom of religious and cultural expression, and most recently in the case of a 14-year-old Welsh school girl who has been excluded from school for wearing a Kara.

The Mayor pledged to continue to support Sikh campaigns and events. For instance, the campaign for separate recognition and mentoring of Sikhs for the Census 2011, appropriate logistical support for Sikhs to better work with policy makers in London, a permanent monument to honour Sikhs killed in “conflict” and the forthcoming Sikh Freedom Lobby at the European Parliament in Brussels on 7 May 2008. Two events planned and to be hosted by the Mayor for later in the year were also discussed and agreed in principle.

The Sikh Federation (UK) also provided the Mayor with useful information for him to consider why it is not appropriate to support a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Parliament Square. Prior to the meeting the Mayor’s Office were made aware of factual information on www.gandhism.net. It is almost certain the idea of a statue of Gandhi, which has also been strongly opposed by Westminster City Council is now permanently off the agenda.

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