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Minister condemns petrol bomb attack on Edinburgh gurdwara; suspect held

Arson at Guru Nanak Gurdwara Sahib, established in 1964, was a hate crime, says Sikh Federation.

world Updated: Aug 30, 2018 10:44 IST
Hindustan Times, London
hate crime,Sikhs,Guru Granth Sahib
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's first minister and leader of the Scottish National Party, called the attack “appalling”. (Bloomberg)

Scotland first minister Nicola Sturgeon on Wednesday condemned a petrol bomb attack on the Guru Nanak Gurdwara Sahib in Edinburgh, while the police arrested one man for what it called “suspicious fire” in the gurdwara established in 1964.

The building located in Leith was extensively damaged but there were no injuries. The Guru Granth Sahib was also not damaged, reports from Edinburgh said, as MPs and others urged the Theresa May government to include hate crime against Sikhs in its Hate Crime Action Plan.

Police Scotland did not name the man arrested but said he was 49, adding that investigations were continuing. Sturgeon, who heads the Scottish National Party government in Scotland, called the attack “appalling”.

Bhai Narinderjit Singh of the Sikh Federation (UK) said: “This is not the first arson attack on a gurdwara. They often come in the aftermath of a terror attack and in what has popularly become known as ‘mistaken identity’ as Sikhs have never been involved in terror attacks.”

“The Hate Crime Action Plan published in July 2016 was issued jointly by the then Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, and the then Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, who completely overlooked the existence of the Sikh community and hate crimes we have faced.It focused largely on Islamophobia and Antisemitism.”

He added: “We have had excuse after excuse by the Conservative government for the oversight and been promised an updated plan.We are still waiting two years later.In the meantime Sikhs and our religious institutions continue to be attacked.”

Galab Singh, member of the gurdewara committee, told BBC: “I’m quite surprised at this attack, the Gurdwara Sahib enjoys a good relationship with the local community here,” while Ravjeet Singh of Sikh Council UK noted that it was the second attack on the gurdwara in 2018.

Brown, moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said: “How sad that a place of worship should be the target of such a hateful act. I am glad no one was injured and extend sympathy to the Sikh community in Edinburgh.

“We recognise the actions of a small minority do not reflect the good relations that exist with your local community. There is no room in Scotland for intolerance.”

First Published: Aug 29, 2018 17:59 IST