Adam Lusherm, Independent, October 16, 2017
Sikh Youth UK has been accused of associating with EDL founder Tommy Robinson.
An influential Sikh youth group has been accused of associating with far-right English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson and allegedly acting to “propagate hatred towards Muslims”.
Sikh Youth UK has arranged for a film allegedly portraying Muslim men as predatory sex groomers to be shown at university campuses and Sikh community centres throughout the UK.
It has welcomed Tommy Robinson to one screening, prompting another Sikh group to say it is causing more concern than the Sikh branch of the EDL, because it is accepted within the community and therefore better able to influence it.
“We are very alarmed,” Balwinder Rana, founder of Sikhs Against The EDL, told The Independent. “By associating with the ex-leader of the EDL who is also a former member of the BNP, Sikh Youth UK is going in totally the wrong direction.”
Mr Rana added that in his opinion, “people like Tommy Robinson only want to use the divide and rule tactic to turn Sikhs against Muslims”.
The apparent warmth of the relationship between Mr Robinson and Sikh Youth UK was revealed when the group welcomed him to a screening in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, of its film Misused Trust.
After Mr Robinson told his 377,000 Twitter followers “Had an [sic] brilliant night in Huddersfield … Islam is targeting our children”, Sikh Youth UK replied: “It was great to have you … Thank you for your support.”
Mr Robinson has repeatedly publicised the work of Sikh Youth UK, writing on social media about “Sikhs raising awareness among their community about Muslim grooming gangs”, and telling his Twitter followers where they could buy a copy of Misused Trust.
For its part, Sikh Youth UK has sometimes publicised the activities of Mr Robinson, on one occasion announcing on its Facebook feed that the EDL founder would be appearing on a Sikh TV channel to “raise awareness of sexual grooming”.
Mr Robinson, 34, who founded the EDL in 2009 before leaving the street-protest group in 2013, has served time in jail for assault and has repeatedly been accused of stoking Islamophobia.
Immediately after the Manchester Arena attack he said the Muslim population of one area of the city contained “enemy combatants”.
Sikh Youth UK, which began as Sikh Youth Birmingham, has described itself as a “movement that seeks to empower and support Sikh Youth [and] to help prevent the use of alcohol and drugs”.
The group first came to national attention with protests against interfaith wedding ceremonies in Sikh temples.
It has now started to devote some of its energies to promoting what it has allegedly portrayed as the significant danger of Muslim men grooming young Sikh women so they can sexually abuse them.
Earlier this year it made the film Misused Trust, which it said would “help show the signs and tactics that are used to groom Sikh girls.”
The film tells the fictional story of a Sikh student preyed upon by a Muslim man who pretends to be Sikh in order to seduce her, then blackmails her into having sex with him and his friends.
After she is rescued with the help of a Sikh Youth UK member, the film also appears to show a group of Sikh men taking violent vigilante action against the Muslim groomers.
They beat up one man and bundle him into the boot of a car, before going to the groomers’ shared house armed with knives, a baseball bat and an axe to attack the Muslim men inside.
The film was condemned by Dr Katy Sian, an academic who has spent 10 years studying what she has called the “forced conversions narrative” – the idea that Muslim “predators” are lurking on university campuses ready to lure vulnerable Sikh females into Islam.
Dr Sian, a lecturer in sociology at York University, told The Independent: “This is a story that continues to circulate within the Sikh community.
“The film therefore acts as another vehicle to further propagate hatred towards Muslims. It is deeply problematic, and reinforces both Islamophobia and patriarchy within the community.
“If they [Sikh Youth UK] are aligning themselves with Tommy Robinson, this could be seen to demonstrate their extremist tendencies.”
The film is also currently being investigated by Ofcom, which received a complaint that it “advocated retaliatory violence as acceptable” and contained “potentially offensive” references to Muslims.
But Sikh Youth UK has succeeded in having Misused Trust shown all over the UK, especially at university Sikh societies.