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Belgian Gurdwara Sahib reopens after over 7 weeks enforced closure; Sikh Council UK welcomes move

December 17, 2014 | By

Belgium: Sikh Council UK has welcomed the reopening of Guru Nanak Gurdwara Sahib in Vilvoorde, Belgium following a period of over seven weeks enforced closure.

A release by the Sikh Council UK says: the Gurdwara Sahib was first closed on 21 October on the orders of Mayor of Vivoorde to curb a perceived threat of the Gurdwara condoning illegal immigration as a result of it’s charitable and humane free food practice for anyone who attends the premises. The Mayor associated the provision of free food with providing support to illegal immigrants.

Gurdwara representatives outside Gurdwara Guru Nanak Sahib, Belgium

Gurdwara representatives outside Gurdwara Guru Nanak Sahib, Belgium

The Gurdwara was initially ordered to close for one month but was only allowed to reopen after seven weeks following representations by local Sikhs and from abroad. The Sikh Council UK liaised with the Gurdwara Committee, took advice from solicitors, wrote to the Mayor and the Belgian embassy in London.

Chair of the European & International Affairs Committee of the Sikh Council UK, Paramjit Kaur Matharu said, “I am delighted the Gurdwara has been allowed to reopen and congratulate everybody involved. I hope this will be the end of the matter but we will continue working with the Gurdwara Committee and local Sangat to minimise any disruption or restrictions to the operation of the Gurdwara. This was clearly a populist move by the Mayor to appease certain elements within the community. There is no Belgian law that requires a Gurdwara to refuse food to illegal immigrants and it is for the state to enforce its immigration laws, not the Gurdwara.”

She added, “Free food is available at any Sikh Gurdwara worldwide to any person of any race, religion, caste, class, position, sexuality, immigration status, nationality, age or gender. This is clearly a good service Sikhs provide to the wider community that relieves pressure on the state to feed people, helps the poor and homeless and is an entirely legitimate charitable activity.”

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