Amid reports of increased hate crime after the June 23 Brexit vote, Home secretary Amber Rudd on Wednesday visited the largest gurdwara outside India in Southall to discuss the importance of tackling hate crime against Sikhs.
Rudd met Sikh leaders and community groups at the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Southall and heard about work underway to bring the community together to beat hatred.
Rudd said: “The Sikh community plays an important role in the diverse Britain that works for everyone and I was delighted to visit the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara and hear about the important work taking place to unite the community”.
“Hate crime has absolutely no place in our society and it is vital we protect those who follow this peaceful religion. That is why I’ve made over £3 million available to protect places of worship and for community projects to combat hatred, and I’d urge all gurdwaras and Sikh groups to consider whether this funding could help them”, she added.
The gurdwara plays an important role in the Theresa May government’s Near Neighbours programme, which brings together people from different faiths and backgrounds in diverse areas so they can work together to improve their communities.
Sikh Council UK secretary-general Gurmel Singh said: “This was a great opportunity to see first-hand the Sikh ethos of self help and community cohesion in action. The Home Secretary’s commitment towards tackling hate crime and improving community cohesion is acknowledged, and the role faith can play in modern Britain is very well received by the community”.
Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara vice-president Sohan Singh Sumra said: “The way she spoke to us and listened to what we had to say was much appreciated. I am delighted to see the government engaging with the Sikh community and respecting the important contribution that we make to British life”.
Rudd published the Hate Crime Action Plan in July, which included measures to combat racial and religious hate crime. Alongside action to encourage greater reporting and tougher sentences, she announced £2.4 million that places of worship which are at risk of, or which have been victims of, hate crime can apply for to fund security measures such as CCTV or fences.