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Statement of City Sikhs Network on Scottish Referendum

September 16, 2014 | By

The Sikh community has a long relationship with Scotland which dates back to 1855 when Maharaja Duleep Singh (the last Maharaja of the Sikh Empire and the first Sikh to set foot on the British Isles) established his home in a castle in the Highlands and came to be known as the ‘Black Prince of Perthshire’.

In the last 160 years, the Sikh community in Scotland has developed to become one of the most affluent and influential groups in the nation and its members have excelled in all walks of life despite there being fewer than 10,000 Sikhs as of the 2011 Census (9,055 Sikhs in Scotland as of 27th March 2011).

Scottish Sikhs can be found throughout mainstream society, from cookery and entertainment shows on TV through to the music and the arts, they were involved in the opening ceremonies of London 2012 and Glasgow 2014, and there is even a ‘Singh’ tartan on the Scottish Register of Tartans.

[File Photo used for representational purpose]

[File Photo used for representational purpose]

According to the British Sikh Report 2014, over half of Sikhs in Scotland identified as being ‘Scottish Sikhs’ whilst the remainder referred to themselves as ‘British Sikhs’. The historic relationship between Britain and the Sikh community is particularly poignant this year due to the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, when 80,000 Sikhs fought for the British armed forces.

It is also worth remembering that it was the British courts that recognized Sikhs as a race as well as a faith, and that it was Parliament in Westminster which gave exemptions to turban wearing Sikhs from wearing motorcycle helmets and hard hats on construction sites.

Due to the long history and relationship between Sikhs and Britain, we at the City Sikhs Network would urge Scottish Sikhs to vote ‘No’ at the Scottish Referendum on Thursday. The rest of the United Kingdom would be at a loss without Scotland, and British Sikhs would be all the poorer without their Scottish Sikh compatriots. We are, without a shadow of a doubt, better together.

Regardless of the outcome of this Thursday’s referendum, the City Sikhs Network hopes that the ties between Sikhs in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK will remain strong, and it cannot be stressed more that this is ultimately a decision for the Scottish people. The City Sikhs Network also welcomes the Moderator of the Kirk (Church of Scotland) in his resolve to hold a Service of Reconciliation immediately after the Referendum in order to bring the nation of Scotland together in harmony, whatever the historic result may be.

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