Muslim advocates in Canada have expressed anger and concern at allegations that India might have been concerned within the killing of a Canadian Sikh leader, stressing that Muslim and Sikh Canadians have lengthy supported one another.
Last week, a diplomatic dispute escalated between Ottawa and New Delhi after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated his authorities was investigating “credible allegations of a potential link” between Indian authorities brokers and the homicide of Hardeep Singh Nijjar.
The row has led many Muslim activists in Canada to name for extra protections for minorities, with some urging a more durable stance in opposition to India, which has been accused of discriminating in opposition to Muslims beneath the management of right-wing Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Nijjar, a outstanding Sikh leader who had referred to as for an impartial Sikh state in India, was fatally shot outdoors a Sikh temple within the province of British Columbia in June.
“It was widely known that there are agents of the Indian government that were operating in Canada and targeting members of the diaspora community,” Stephen Brown, head of the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) advocacy group, instructed Al Jazeera.
“But going to the point where somebody would be assassinated right outside of a place of worship in broad daylight, the purpose of doing that is to send a message.”
Brown added that Canadian Muslims need the Trudeau authorities to “take action” to ensure their security. “I would say there’s outrage, but there’s also real concern that currently they’re not safe,” he stated.
(1/5). Protections have to be put in place to make sure the protection of all Canadians from all threats, each international and home.
Following the announcement within the House of Commons by the Prime Minister, NCCM is asking for the killers of a fellow Canadian to be delivered to justice. pic.twitter.com/qfD7pkrBtr
— NCCM (@nccm) September 19, 2023
India denies allegations
The Indian authorities has denied Trudeau’s accusations as “absurd” and referred to as on Canada to curb the actions of people it describes as “terrorists”, referring to Sikh separatists whom it views as a safety risk.
Canada and India expelled diplomats from one another’s respective international locations amid the dispute, and New Delhi suspended visa providers in Canada resulting from purported threats in opposition to its consular employees.
India had accused Nijjar of being “involved in terrorism” – an allegation rejected by his associates, who say such claims are half of a marketing campaign aimed toward vilifying Sikhs advocating for an impartial state, dubbed Khalistan, in India’s northern Punjab area.
The separatist wrestle turned significantly violent within the 1980s after then-Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered a raid on a Sikh temple to root out leaders of the Khalistan motion. Gandhi was assassinated in 1984 by two Sikh bodyguards, sparking anti-Sikh riots and lethal assaults.
In a press release final week, India’s international ministry stated Canada’s “unsubstantiated allegations seek to shift the focus from Khalistani terrorists and extremists, who have been provided shelter in Canada and continue to threaten India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
India has lengthy expressed concern about political actions in Canadian Sikh communities.
But Brown stated regardless of how the Indian authorities views Nijjar or Sikh activism in Canada extra usually, what issues is that the slain leader by no means confronted any prices as a Canadian citizen.
“Our government, our members of law enforcement, did not think that Mr Nijjar was a terrorist, did not think that he was a threat to this country. And that’s the only thing that matters,” he instructed Al Jazeera.
Brown added that freedom of expression – whether or not directed in opposition to international states or Canada’s personal authorities – is on the core of the Canadian id.
“If you are not able to openly express your opinion of the world because you’re afraid that an agent of a foreign government is going to assassinate you or target you, then you don’t have an open society anymore,” he stated.
‘Pressure to not speak out’
Other Muslim neighborhood advocates echoed that view, calling on Ottawa to reassess its ties to New Delhi and prioritise human rights in its international coverage.
For years, Muslim activists have decried the rise of Hindu nationalism in India beneath Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) authorities, which they are saying has led to discriminatory legal guidelines and elevated mob violence in opposition to non secular minorities. New Delhi has rejected allegations of rights abuses as politically motivated.
Taha Ghayyur, govt director of Justice for All Canada, a rights group that combats Islamophobia, stated the Nijjar case – and up to date allegations that India might have been concerned – spurred worry in Muslim communities.
“Indian Muslims here in Canada, for instance, are very concerned about speaking out or saying even a word about what’s happening in India because they know there’s a very serious potential of reprisal against them or their family members back home in India,” he instructed Al Jazeera.
“Many Indian Muslims are under a lot of pressure to not speak out. So, there is that fear.”
Ghayyur stated Sikhs and Muslims in Canada are united by the truth that they’re each seen non secular minorities.
He added that Muslim and Sikh leaders in Canada at the moment are “talking about both local and transnational hate” affecting their communities.
Feelings of insecurity
The Canadian authorities has not launched proof to again up its allegations in opposition to India, saying its investigation is ongoing.
Last week, Trudeau referred to as on New Delhi to cooperate with the probe. “We call upon the government of India to work with us, to take seriously these allegations and to allow justice to follow its course,” he stated.
Shaheen Ashraf, a Muslim neighborhood advocate based mostly in Montreal, expressed confidence that the prime minister wouldn’t have made the accusations in opposition to India public with out credible proof.
“There are certain rogue states that do these kinds of things, but I didn’t expect India to do it,” she instructed Al Jazeera.
Ashraf stated she was “shocked” and “disappointed” after studying in regards to the Indian authorities’s attainable function within the killing of Nijjar, including that violence is rarely the reply to any downside.
She additionally underscored that total Canadians of all faiths and backgrounds get alongside properly.
Still, Muslim Canadians have confronted lethal violence in recent times.
A far-right gunman fatally shot six folks at a mosque in Quebec City in 2017, and in 2021, a person deliberately ran over a Muslim household in London, Ontario, killing 4 folks in what officers described as an act of “terrorism”.
Abd Alfatah Twakkal, chair of the London Council of Imams, famous that native Muslims acquired an outpouring of assist from Sikhs within the aftermath of that assault two years in the past, with members of the Sikh neighborhood volunteering and distributing water at Muslim neighborhood occasions.
“It’s a beautiful gesture, but it shows very clearly that level of solidarity and really the focus on a sense of acknowledging our common humanity.”
Twakkal stated Canada is an enormous nation that’s residence to various Muslim communities, however he stated in London, Muslims are nonetheless reeling from the 2021 assault and the suspect’s trial, which started earlier this month.
“There is a sense of fear. There is a sense of concern about people having a lack of security or a sense of safety,” he instructed Al Jazeera.
“If you have foreign governments that are interfering and being able to do these types of things … it can lead to a sense of increased insecurity.”