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.
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 recognised 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.
For more information about the City Sikhs Network, please visit www.citysikhs.org.uk
Note to Editors:
The City Sikhs Network is an organisation run by British Sikhs to create positive change within Britain and is an authentic voice of British Sikhs. It has over 6,000 members throughout the UK and it is based on universal Sikh values such as equality, tolerance, social integration and community cohesion. The majority of its members are Sikh professionals from the second, third and fourth generation British Sikh community across the UK.
Its Directors have represented the City Sikhs Network and spoken on issues regarding British Sikhs on the following mainstream British media in the past 12 months: BBC1, BBC World News, BBC Asian Network, local BBC Radio, BBC Radio 2, Al Jazeera, Channel 4, Huffington Post.
The Singh tartan can be found at http://www.tartanregister.gov.uk/tartanDetails.aspx?ref=3800
For media enquiries, please email our media team (firstname.lastname@example.org).
“Sikhs have lived in the UK arguably since 1855, when the son of the last Sikh ruler of Punjab was bought over as a trophy and a political pawn by the then colonial masters. Since 1855 we have talked about the dispossession of the Sikh Empire and the subsequent attempted anglicisation of Sikh culture and identity in the UK. Today the movement for self determination is very much alive. Now a new generation of activists form the vanguard that will see the Punjab under Sikh rule once again.
The Scottish people like the Sikhs have their own history, language and culture, that existed long before the dominion of the English. As a Sikh I find I have so much in common with the Scottish people who have similarly been deprived of their sovereignty, I hope that they once again become masters of their own destiny, for better or for worse, as is their right.
I also long to see an end to modern day colonialism manifested by imperialistic capitalism that has seen millions killed and made refugees, in wars of resource exploitation.
I hope the free people of the world never forget the barbarity and moral depravation through which this façade of progress was erected. Our dearly held modernity is but a brief calm after generations of genocide.”
-Shamsher Singh, activist