After intense backlash, Canada drops 'Sikh extremism' reference in terrorism report
By Barfi Culture Team
15th April 2019

On Friday morning 12th April, a day before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was due to attend a big Vaisakhi event in Vancouver, his government quietly dropped a big announcement.

The Canadian government had agreed to scrub broad references to Sikhs in a controversial terrorism report published last year, after a huge backlash.

The report had, for the first time, made a reference to 'Sikh (Khalistani) terrorism' as one of the big threats Canada faced from ideological groups. But Canadian Sikhs felt it maligned them as there hadn't been a Sikh-related terror incident in decades.

The government's u-turn was a big victory for Sikh groups who had kept up the pressure and mobilised the community over four months since it had been published. Last week the World Sikh Organization and Ontario Gurdwara groups organised a public debate that featured an estimated crowd of 400 people.

The backlash was intense enough that some warned Trudeau the Liberals could face a "seismic shift" in Sikh political leanings away from the party.

Canadian Sikhs are particularly influential in ridings in the Greater Toronto Area as well as Vancouver and Surrey. "Nine seats make or break their (Liberal) majority," the World Sikh Organization's Jaskaran Sandhu told the National Post. "Sikhs can decide that."

In the updated terror report, the title 'Sikh (Khalistani) Extremism' has been replaced with 'Extremists who support violent means to establish an independent state within India'.

Its followed by just one paragraph that relates to the 1985 Air India bombing that killed 331 people, and events relating to 1982 - 1993.

The Canadian government had earlier said it did not mean to malign Sikhs with the report, but that was not seen as going far enough.

The WSO called the development "an important step" but noted that Canadian Muslims were still being maligned with terms like 'Shia' and 'Sunni'.

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