Several temples in Canada have expressed concern over a series of vandalisations in the past year and have supported a petition that urges the House of Commons to recognise Hinduphobia officially. The temples’ endorsement has boosted the petition, with over 6,000 signatures gathered by the time this report was published, making it the most popular open petition in all categories. The petition, initiated by MP Melissa Lanstman, was open for signatures on 19th July and will remain open until 17th October. It is available here.
Among the temples supporting the petition is the Lakshmi Narayan Mandir in Surrey, British Columbia. It was vandalised on 12th August with anti-India and pro-Khalistan posters plastered on its front gate and rear wall. The temple’s president, Satish Kumar, stated that while they would support pro-Hindu initiatives, they have become “more active” in collecting signatures for the petition since the temple was targeted.
The Brampton Triveni Mandir also supports the petition and has hosted Lanstman and supporters of the petition at events organised at the temple. The temple’s spiritual leader, Yudhisthir Dhanrajh, said their support was prompted by the “series of vandalism attacks” on temples. “We are very involved and are attempting to take action. We don’t know if it (the petition) can solve the problem, but it can only help us,” he added.
During a gathering held at the temple on 15th August, the Deputy Leader of the principal opposition Conservative Party in the House, Melissa Lantsman, addressed the audience. She said, “We want to call on this government to act because nobody in this country should be afraid to practice their faith, run their business or go to a Mandir or go to a school.”
According to Chimanbhai Patel, a lifetime trustee of the Sanatan Mandir Cultural Centre located in Markham within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), the recent string of vandalism incidents is causing fear. Although their temple hasn’t been targeted yet, he emphasised the importance of taking proactive security measures and supporting the petition, as they don’t know if they will be the next ones affected.
The effort to combat the recent wave of vandalism against Hindu temples has garnered support from various temples and organisations beyond those with Indian-origin congregations. The Pashupatinath Temple in Brampton, which serves the Nepali-Canadian community, has joined the cause, with spokesperson Chinta Uprety emphasising the importance of protecting their culture and religion. The Sri Jain Mandir in Toronto is also participating, as President Ahimendra Jain feels that their temple feels unprotected by rising hate and crime.
The Canadian Organization for Hindu Heritage Education (COHHE) is behind the petition, which seeks to have Hinduphobia recognised as a term in the glossary of terms in the Human Rights Code. Hinduphobia would be defined as denial, negation, prejudice, or slander against Hindus, Hinduism, or Hinduness. The petition process began just days after the signage vandalism at the Shri Bhagavad Gita Park in Brampton on 14th July. Since July of last year, at least seven incidents of temples being targeted have been reported.
What is #Hinduphobia? E-petition 4507 in the Canadian House of Commons is to gather support to Recognize Hinduphobia. Why you must sign it? See this video:https://t.co/ksoE6vb2p9
Thank you @hindutimescan for this excellent educational video. Please sign the petition to get our…
— CohheOfficial (@CohheOfficial) August 18, 2023
The petition to recognise Hinduphobia
The petition noted that Hindus are a minority group with a population of approximately 8.50.000 or 2.3 per cent in Canada, including the growing numbers born there. Overall, Hindu Canadians are law-abiding and peaceful citizens who contribute greatly to the Canadian economy, culture, and society. They represent the indigenous people of the Indian sub-continent, which has a distinct and diverse culture, languages and philosophy.
Talking about the attacks on Hindu temples, the petition read, “There have been numerous attacks on Hindu temples and Hindus are feeling unsafe in their places of worship. Hindus in Canada face growing negative stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination at work, in schools and in the communities and Hindus traditions and culture are misrepresented and misunderstood by media and academia.”
The petitioner and the signatories demanded the House of Commons to:
- Recognize Hinduphobia as a term in the glossary of terms in the Human Rights Code to describe anti-Hindu prejudice and discrimination;
- Recognize the following definition of Hinduphobia: Anti-Hindu sentiment or Hinduphobia is denial, negation, prejudice or vilification against Hindus, Hinduism, or Hinduness; and fund the development of educational and training materials along with a plan to educate Canadians about Hinduphobia and anti-Hindu sentiment to raise awareness and address systemic and institutional Hinduphobia.
Attack on Hindu temples in Canada
On 12th August, Khalistani terrorists also placed posters at the entrance of the temple, aiming to sow fear within the Hindu community. The poster advocates for a referendum pertaining to “the assassination of Hardeep Nijjar” and investigating India’s role in the terrorist’s assassination.
On February 17, unknown miscreants defaced a Ram temple in Mississauga with anti-India graffiti.
On January 31, the Gauri Shankar Mandir was desecrated by Khalistani extremists in Brampton city in Ontario province of Canada. The walls of the temple were defaced with anti-India graffiti by Khalistanis associated allegedly with the banned outfit Sikhs For Justice (SFJ). The vicious slogan of ‘Khalistan Zindabad, Hindustan Murdabad’ was found spray-painted on the outer wall of Gauri Shankar Mandir.
In September 2022, some Khalistani terrorists defaced BAPS Swaminarayan Temple in Toronto with anti-India slogans. Several videos circulating on social media showed slogans of ‘Khalistan Zindabad, Hindustan Murdabad’ painted on the walls of the temple.
In February 2022, six Hindu temples were attacked in Toronto.