Hundreds of Sikhs staged a rally in Germany’s western city of Essen on Saturday to protest against a terror strike at a gurdwara which authorities said was carried out by radical Islamists.
The Sikhs participated in ‘nagar kirtan’, singing religious hymns, exactly a week after an explosion ripped through Nanaksar Satsang Darbar Gurdwara, injuring three persons.
The peaceful march was not a reaction to the strikes, but intended to pass on the message that the religious group would not succumb to terror fears, the German media reported.
Young men with swords enacted poses from the traditional Sikh martial art “gatka” to the sounds of music and drums amid tight security as the community members, some of them holding placards in the wake of the attack, travelled through the streets.
The route for the procession, which had been planned months earlier, was changed after the attack to ensure the safety of all participants, the report said. “I think it is important that the procession has taken place This is a clear signal that we will not be intimidated, we do not shrink back... As mayor, I am also here to show when the Sikh community is attacked in Essen, the entire city is under attack. And I am also the mayor of the Sikh,” city police chief Frank Richter was quoted as saying.
The two teenagers with known links to regional Islamists have been arrested in connection with the incident.
India had expressed “distress” at what has been deemed as a deliberate act from the beginning. Top Indian officials have already taken it up at the highest level as Essen authorities assured India that all steps will be taken to ensure security for all minorities including the Sikhs.
The organisers had planned to bring the ‘granthi’ (priest), on whom the whole pane of glass had fallen due to the impact of the explosion and was seriously injured, to the procession. He could not come down but joined through telephone.
The priest, Kuldeep Singh, said: “What happened is a shame. Those who have done this, should be blessed by God. My health is very good and I will be discharged in a few days.”
Germany has a Sikh population of more than 15,000 and around 35 gurdwaras are located across the country.