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Despite speculation that Sikh extremism in Canada is getting worse, there is evidence militancy is actually declining. (Laura Leyshon for The Globe and Mail)
Despite speculation that Sikh extremism in Canada is getting worse, there is evidence militancy is actually declining. (Laura Leyshon for The Globe and Mail)

Canadian Sikhs: The shaming of the majority by the brutality of the few Add to ...

One symbol, the saffron flag, continues to soar over the Sri Guru Nanak Sikh Center in Brampton, scene of last Sunday's melee. The flag traditionally signals that everyone is welcome, but that sentiment no longer applies to the handful of men who used to call the shots inside the sprawling temple, the ones who picked up weapons in a bid to regain control of a congregation whose values - moderation, liberal-mindedness, transparency - had subsumed their own.

"I don't think they have grown genetically from 300 years ago," Rajinder Singh Sandhu, the soft-spoken secretary of the temple, said of the attackers, who will be shunned from the community. "We are all part of society, and we need to behave as part of society."

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'We're not glorifying violence,' second-generation Sikhs say

Moninder Singh, 29, has a busy life juggling a family and career as an occupational therapist in Surrey, B.C. Like many second-generation Sikhs, he's educated and articulate and wishes "mainstream" Canadians understood Sikhs better.

He also maintains that Sikh extremists were not responsible for the 1985 Air India bombing that killed 329 people, and describes the Sikh men executed for assassinating Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as martyrs.

Their pictures adorn the entrance of the controversial Sikh temple he speaks for. "We're not glorifying violence," Mr. Singh said during an interview. "We're just showing that at certain times in history people have had to do things that may not be understood for another 50 years."

It is these kinds of sentiments that rile Liberal MP and former B.C. premier Ujjal Dosanjh, who took aim at young, second-generation Sikhs such as Mr. Singh last week, alleging that militancy is alive and on the rise in Canada.

Punjabi-speaking radio stations were ablaze with angry callers. "I was offended," said Jas Gill, 27, communications manager of the Sher-e-Punjab radio station in Richmond. "I don't see [extremism]and I would like to see his evidence."

With reports from Globe reporter Jane Armstrong and Gurmukh Singh, Special to The Globe and Mail

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