Police arrested 55 people in the British town of Leamington Spa on Sunday following an eight-hour protest at a gurdwara about an interfaith wedding that was to take place later in the day. According to news reports, the protestors, some with “bladed weapons”, entered the Gurdwara Sahib to stop an interfaith wedding. There have reportedly been tensions in the community over the last couple of years about permissions being granted to conduct interfaith weddings at the gurdwara.
Two groups Sikh 2 Inspire and Sikh Youth UK said they were merely staging a peaceful protest. They claim the wedding violated a consensus in the community to not allow Gurdwaras to host interfaith marriages.
Warwickshire police said that “a significant number of bladed weapons were seized from the scene”. It said the “blades seized so far have been ceremonial” but that “another non-ceremonial weapon was seized”. Nobody was injured in the incident but they were treating the incident as an “aggravated trespass”, pending investigation, believing it to be an escalation of an ongoing dispute. The Guardian said it was the third or fourth time in recent months that a group of men had attempted to gain entry to the Gurdwara over the issue of mixed marriages.
The gurdwara committee’s decision to call the police and the subsequent arrests have sparked sharp reactions on social media. Some backed the protests on religious grounds while others strongly objected to disrupting mixed marriages.
A law passed or decision made by Sri Akaal Takht Sahib is not up for debate, end of! #LeamingtonGurdwara has gone rogue— Pinda Mann (@Pinda_Mann) September 11, 2016
ABOUT TIME West Midlands police is taking seriously the threats from thugs who disrupt inter-faith marriages. They've ignored this for years— Sunny Hundal (@sunny_hundal) September 11, 2016
@shashj It is about our faith. We are fine with mixed marriages it's about the religious ceremony as it is only meant to be for Sikhs.— Amanpreet Kaur Gill (@AmanpreetMedia) September 11, 2016
@AmanpreetMedia Its intimidation based on religious prejudice, and it's quite clearly illegal.— Shashank Joshi (@shashj) September 11, 2016