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Indo-Canadian Sikh politician shuts down racist heckler with ‘love and courage’

“When is your Sharia going to end?” the woman asked Sikh politician Jagmeet Singh, shows a video of the incident which has been shared widely on social media websites.

world Updated: Sep 11, 2017 18:12 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Sikhism,Anti Islam groups,Racism
The woman stormed off after Jagmeet Singh kept saying “we will not be intimidated by hate”. (Video screengrab)

Indo-Canadian politician Jagmeet Singh had the perfect response to a woman who was yelling at him about Islamic sharia law at an event in Ontario.

Singh, one of the favourites to become the next leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP), was speaking on Wednesday at the Professor’s Lake Community Centre in Brampton when the woman interrupted him.

“When is your Sharia going to end?” the woman asked the Sikh politician in the video of the incident, which has been shared widely on social media websites.

After initially asking her to hold on, Singh said to the woman: “What this is, we don’t want to be intimidated by hate. We don’t want hatred to ruin a positive event, so let’s show people how we treat people with love.”

“We welcome you, we support you and we love you.”

The woman, who kept telling organisers not to touch her or she will call the police, also said Singh wouldn’t take her calls so she showed up at his event.

“We’re not intimidated by hatefulness. Let her speak as much as she wants to. We have no problem with it,” Singh said, conceding that the situation was a little bit “awkward”.

A Vice article said the woman “seemed to be spouting off the rhetoric of an anti-Islam women’s group called Suffragettes Against Silence who are familiar faces in the far-right, anti-Islam circle in Canada. This group believes that Islam is an existential threat to the woman of Canada”.

The woman finally stormed off as the crowd kept cheering as Singh chanted “love and courage”.

The Indo-Canadian politician then addressed the crowd and said he has faced such things before and it wasn’t a problem. “You know growing up as a brown-skinned, turbaned, bearded man, I faced things like this before... It’s not a problem, we can deal with it.”

Twitter users too cheered Singh’s handling of the situation, with one saying his response “to an ignorant racist just affirms my support for him”.

Experts say the odds of Singh becoming the NDP leader improved because he is trying to be the first person from the Indian-origin community to lead a national political party.

Singh has great mainstream appeal among the NDP faithful, with his progressive policy positions and personal charisma, including his appearance in the style sections of several magazines.

First Published: Sep 09, 2017 10:31 IST