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The Sikh congregation at a gurdwara in Surrey held prayers for the victims of Christchurch attacks by a neo Nazi.

The Friday attacks on two mosques in New Zealand had left 50 people dead.

On Sunday, the congregation at the Guru Nanak Sikh Temple, Surrey remembered the dead and prayed for the speedy recovery of those injured.

What binds the Surrey Sikh temple with those mosques in a faraway country is their own experience with racism in the past.

It is the same gurdwara where temple keeper Nirmal Singh Gill was beaten to death by the skinheads in the parking lot in January, 1998.

The temple President Hardeep Singh Nijjar told the Straightthat apart from that connection, the values of Sikhism demand that we must stand up for everyone without any discrimination.

He pointed out that the daily prayers of the Sikhs end with a verse that calls for the well-being of the whole of mankind.

The development is significant, as a Sikh MLA of the ruling right wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party in India tried to justify the Christchurch incident. Manjinder Singh Sirsa is a legislator from Delhi, and also the head of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee.

He went on social media to suggest that the attacks were the outcome of violence being perpetrated by Islamic extremists. He shared the controversial views expressed by right wing Senator Fraser Anning in New Zealand. Anning had blamed the attacks on Muslim immigrants.

Nijjar strongly denounced the statement made by Sirsa, and said that it only reflects the mindset of his party that desires to turn India into a Hindu theocracy, and is known for its anti-minority stance. He believes that a true Sikh will never do that, as the Sikh gurus always stood against injustice and oppression without compromising with those in power.

He further said that in view of growing bigotry in North America, and the Quebec City mosque massacre that left six people dead in 2017, the Sikh temples are deliberating on increasing vigilance in partnership with other religious minority groups who face similar challenges.

Gurpreet Singh is a Canada- based journalist who publishes Radical Desi- a monthly magazine that covers alternative politics.

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