Globe and Mail - University of Alberta removes racist posters targeting turban-wearing Sikhs

The University of Alberta campus is pictured in Edmonton, Alta., on Aug. 26, 2016. (CODIE MCLACHLAN/Codie McLachlan for the Globe an)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is adding his voice to growing condemnation of racist posters that were put up at the University of Alberta targeting turban-wearing Sikhs.

“We’re proud of the enormous contributions Sikhs make to this country everyday,” Trudeau wrote Tuesday on Twitter.

The university said it removed 12 of the posters found on the campus on Monday, including one at the university’s main library.

Messaging on the poster included the caption “F--K YOUR TURBAN” and “If you are so obsessed with your third-world culture, go the f--k back to where you came from.”

The posters included the hashtags “non-integrative” and “invasion.”

University president David Turpin said campus police are investigating.

“It makes me very angry,” Turpin said in an interview, noting the campus has been buzzing about the posters.

“This has been met with disgust. People are rising up independently, reaching out to minority groups and offering support.”

Yadvinder Bhardwaj, of the 2,500-member Indian Student Association, said it is shameful that someone tried to disturb the harmony shared by students of different ethnic backgrounds.

“We totally condemn the act,” he said. “People choose Canada because it is known for its diversity.”

 The World Sikh Organization of Canada also spoke out against the racist message.

 Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan — who is Sikh — also weighed in on the issue on social media.

“Proud to be Canadian, proud of my service to Canada, proud of my turban,” he wrote on Twitter, referencing the university.

Arundeep Singh Sandhu said he felt a flash of anger when he heard about the racist posters. But instead of giving in to rage, the former student decided to help organize a gathering to be held next week to raise awareness about what a turban is and its importance to Sikhs.

Sandhu, 28, said volunteers will tie turbans on to students at the main Edmonton campus and answer questions during an event he is calling Turban 101.

“I thought this would be a really good way to turn the conversation around,” Sandhu said.

“You had your say and put your poster up. The response was people tore it down. Now we are going to give our views and see what people think of that.”

Sandhu said he can’t believe that there are still people making an issue of turbans in Canada.

He remembers the debate among some people over whether RCMP officers should be allowed to wear turbans when he was a little boy.

The posters put up on campus show that individuals and the community must always be ready to stand up to ignorance, he said.

“I will admit I was angry that someone would say this,” Sandhu said.

“It is never productive to respond to hate with anger and hate. We can turn this around.”

Earlier this month, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson helped launched an anti-racism campaign on social media called “Make It Awkward” after someone hurled a slur at a black actor in the city who was filming a public service announcement on a city street.

Actor Jesse Lipscombe challenged a middle-aged white man who made the slur to explain his actions. The man denied doing anything but then yelled another slur before driving away. Lipscombe’s encounter was caught on video and posted online.









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