This CREST report, by Dr Jasjit Singh, focuses on ‘Sikh radicalisation’ in Britain, an issue which has received much political and media attention, but little academic analysis to date.The report examines the context and reality of Sikh activism in the UK. It draws on Dr Singh’s earlier work on religious and cultural transmission among young British Sikhs, Sikh diasporas, religious movements/communities and the state in UK South Asian disaporas.
Bringing together evidence from historic and contemporary media sources, academic literature, social media, internet discussion forums, ethnographic fieldwork and a series of semi-structured interviews, the report answers the following questions:
- FRAMING SIKH ACTIVISM IN BRITAIN: Which incidents have taken place in Britain involving Sikhs including protests and flashpoints and how have these impacted on the discourse around Sikhs in Britain?
- NARRATIVES AND ISSUES: Which narratives and issues are relevant in encouraging Sikhs in Britain to participate in these protests and incidents? Are there specific political / religious narratives and how are these linked to cultural issues?
- THE TRANSMISSION OF NARRATIVES: How are these narratives transmitted? How are Sikh organisations / institutions involved?
- TYPES OF SIKH ACTIVISM: Are there different types of Sikh activism and what are the key issues of focus?
- THE IMPACT OF SIKH ACTIVISM IN BRITAIN: What is the impact of Sikh activism on the British public?
The report also maps events and incidents of Sikh political violence, highlighting how Sikh activism in Britain fundamentally changed following the events of 1984.
In June 1984 Operation Bluestar saw the Indian forces storming the Harmandir Sahib (often referred to as the Golden Temple). In November the same year, Sikh bodyguards assassinated the Indian Prime Minister, triggering a wave of violence against Sikhs across India. These events remain traumatic issues for many Sikhs in Britain.
Since then most incidents of Sikh violence have occurred against other Sikhs for doctrinal, personal or political reasons.
The report concludes that Sikhs in Britain do not pose a security threat as there is no conflict with ‘the West’. In terms of integration, the main threat of violence is from the exploitation of inter-community and/or intra-community tensions and any resulting vigilantism.
Both the executive summary and full report are available to download for free.
These reports are products from the ‘Fundamentalists, Extremists, Radicals or Activists? Understanding the activities of Sikhs in Britain’ project, led by Dr Jasjit Singh, working with Professor Seán McLoughlin, from the School of Religion, Philosophy and the History of Science at the University of Leeds. The project was funded by the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats. You can read more about the project here.
This report is produced under a Creative Commons 4.0 BY-NC-SA licence. For more information on how you can use our content read our copyright page.