The visiting journalist from India Rana Ayyub has been denied an opportunity to address the congregation at the Ross Street Sikh temple in Vancouver, Canada.
Ayyub has published Gujarat Files, a book based on her undercover investigation of the complicity of the government in anti Muslim pogrom of Gujarat in 2002 and the killings of the Muslim men in staged police shootouts.
The current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi used to be the Chief Minister of Gujarat when Ayyub was sent there for a sting operation by Tehelka magazine. Human rights activists and survivours of the anti Muslim massacre maintain that Modi was directly involved in violence. Notably, Modi was denied entry by numerous countries, including US in the aftermath of the bloody events of 2002. However, he visited Canada after being elected as Prime Minister in 2015 and was welcomed at the Ross Street Sikh temple that year despite protests by number of activists.
Ayyub is here on the invitation of Radical Desi magazine that presented her with “Courage in Journalism Award” at a well attended public event in Surrey. After all, she risked her life by going undercover to find how politicians belonging to Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and the police and the administrative officers were involved in violence against Muslims. She has spoken at more than 500 events worldwide and more than 1,60,000 copies of her book has been sold.
Since Ross Street Sikh temple is managed by Khalsa Diwan Society- the oldest Sikh body that was established to fight against racism and British occupation of India, Radical Desi had requested the management of the gurdwara to let her address the congregation. It was brought to the knowledge of the temple president Malkiat Singh Dhami that she will speaking about the glorious history of the revolutionaries who had established the gurdwara and growing religious extremism in India. After a long wait, Radical Desi was told that the the temple executives are not receptive as Ayyub has a “controversial background”.
It is unfortunate that Ayyub was not allowed to speak to the congregation of a temple whose founders fought against injustice and wished to establish a secular and egalitarian society. Letting Ayyub speak and standing up for her for exposing a sectarian government under which attacks on religious minorities have grown would have been a real tribute to our elders whose legacy remains relevant as the world is grappling with bigotry.
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