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Know Sikhs, tie a turban: Tolerance campaign at Canada university campus

world Updated: Sep 24, 2016 21:08 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Canada university

File photo of University of Alberta in Canada.(Wikicommons)

Racist anti-Sikh posters that appeared at the University of Alberta this week invited condemnation across Canada, including from the country’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister for National Defence Harjit Sajjan.

But Sikh organisations will counter this in an imaginative way next week as they hold ‘Turban, Eh!’ on the campus of the University. This special event has been scheduled at the university for Tuesday and is expected to be a platform for the curious to learn not just how to tie a turban, but also know more about Sikhs, their culture and yes, turbans.

Nearly a dozen posters appeared in the campus of the 1908-founded University of Alberta in western Canada. They carried offensive messages titled F**k Your Turban, and an image of a turbaned Sikh that blared: “If you’re so obsessed with your third-world culture, go the f**k back to where you came from!”

The posters were swiftly taken down by the varsity’s Protective Services amid a barrage of criticism against the racist tones. Vice-chancellor Davind H Turpin said the university was a space that is open to all people. “We take pride in the strength of our diverse community,” said Turpin, who is also the president of the varsity.

The university already has an anti-racism social-media campaign #MakeItAwkward.

Yadvinder Bhardwaj, president of the University’s Indian Students Association, appeared in a video with Turpin and stated: “We strongly condemn these posters and the people behind them.”

An investigation is on. While the posters included the URL, that group has denied any link to the racist campaign. “We wish to inform our supporters that we strongly condemn this flyer,” it said in a statement. “Permission was not sought from our board for this to be circulated.”

Sajjan tweeted: “Proud to be Canadian, proud of my service to Canada, proud of my turban.”

Trudeau replied: “…and we’re proud of the enormous contributions Sikhs make to this country every day.”

Read | First Sikh officer in Canada who fought for right to wear turban honoured