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Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

Jagmeet Singh’s brother denounces heckler for Islamophobic tirade

Gurrratan Singh, Jagmeet Singh’s brother, was elected to the Ontario assembly from Brampton East for the NDP, the party his brother leads at the federal level

indians-abroad Updated: Sep 04, 2019 11:01 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Hindustan Times, Toronto
Gurratan Singh is a member of provincial parliament in Ontario, Canada
Gurratan Singh is a member of provincial parliament in Ontario, Canada(. Handout/Ontario NDP/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network)
         

Last year, Gurratan Singh followed in his brother Jagmeet Singh’s footsteps by getting elected to the Ontario provincial assembly. Now, he has emulated the New Democratic Party (NDP) leader by facing down an anti-Islamic heckler at a public event.

Gurratan, a Sikh, who was attending the “MuslimFest” event in Mississauga, a town in the Greater Toronto Area, was confronted by a man later identified as Stephen Garvey, founder of the National Citizens Alliance. In a video that has gone viral, with over a quarter million views, Garvey asks whether he supports Sharia law and his stand on political Islam. Gurratan responds by stating that he condemns racism and considers any form of hate wrong, and emphasises that he will never respond to such a person by saying “I am not a Muslim.”

In a tweet later about the episode, Gurratan said his brother “taught me to always confront racism... I will never respond to an Islamophobia by stating I am not a Muslim. Instead, I will always stand with my Muslim brothers and sisters and say hate is wrong.”

Gurrratan was elected to the Ontario assembly from Brampton East for the NDP, the party his brother leads at the federal level. As the video and his reaction was lauded on social media, Jagmeet told reporters in Toronto: “I got to admit that I am proud of my brother for responding with strength, responding clearly what is wrong,” according to the CBC, the national broadcaster.

Jagmeet had a similar experience in 2017 during his campaign for leadership of the NDP. In a video that went viral, a woman asked similar questions of him, and he answered: “We welcome you. We love you. We support you...we believe in your rights,” even as the crowd chanted “love and courage”. Later, he told the audience: “We’re not worried about this. It’s OK. As a brown-skinned turban-wearing man, I have faced things like this before.”

Gurratan later added about the recent incident: “Together, we are stronger than the racist hatred of one man.” And given the attention it has received in Canada, he used the opportunity to promote his brother’s agenda just about 45 days before the federal elections, he tweeted that this was “bigger than one person & one single event It’s about the rise of Islamophobia, racism & hate” and “how Canada & the world could use a lot more of” Jagmeet Singh’s “love & courage in confronting it.”