Public Comment

Censored by the BBC

Lord Singh
Sunday November 10, 2019 - 10:18:00 AM

Islamophobia has taken hold in the UK. My brother, Lord Indarjit of Wimbledon's, recent broadcast was censored by the BBC. Here is the background of historical facts that were deemed too sensitive for British Muslims. It is an historical fact that the ninth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Teg Bahadur, was martyred by Mughal emperor Jahangir for refusing to embrace Islam. Tyranny and religious persecution of Hindus and Sikhs reached its peak when Aurangzeb ascended to the throne in Delhi. He had long cherished converting India to Islam and vigorously started destroying temples and forcing Hindus to embrace Islam or face death. Fearing the imminent destruction of their religion, a group of Kashmiri Brahmins visited Amarnath, the abode of Hindu Lord Shiva, to invoke his mercy. At Amarnath Lord Shiva visited the Brahmins in their dream and asked them to go to Guru Teg Bahadur and plead for his help in saving the Hindu religion. Teg Bahadur agreed to visit Aurangzeb in Delhi to ask him to stop the persecution and slaughter of Hindus. He was arrested on the way and brought in chains to Delhi. Aurangzeb demanded Teg Bahadur embrace Islam. When Teg Bahadur refused he was executed with three of his companions. Many saints, sages and heroes have died for the sake of their own convictions, but rarely has someone died in defense of another faith. Lord Singh, has been a broadcaster for the BBC in the UK for more than 35 years. It was therefore most disturbing when a scheduled broadcast, called “Thought for the Day” was censored by the BBC out of fear of offending Muslim sentiments. The following is a copy of the censored broadcast.

---Jagjit Singh 

Thought for the day 28, November 2018 by Lord Singh

Last weekend was, for Sikhs, a bit like Christmas and Easter rolled into one. Celebration of the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak who taught the need for responsible living centered on the rights and concerns of others, was followed next day by the commemoration of the martyrdom of the 9th Guru, Guru Teg Bahadhur who in 1675 gave his life in the defense of human rights. 

The Mughal ruler Aurangzeb, in his determination to extend Islam to the whole of the sub-continent, was forcibly converting large numbers of Hindus in Kashmir. In desperation the Hindu leaders asked Guru Teg Bahadhur to intercede on their behalf. They said, we know that you and earlier Sikh Gurus have always stood up for the rights of all people, will you appeal to the Mughal Emperor to stop this forced conversion? 

The Guru knew that such an appeal would almost certainly cost him his life. But true to Sikh teachings on freedom of belief he set off for Delhi. The Emperor refused to change his policy and instead offered rich gifts to the Guru to convert to Islam. When Guru Teg Bahadhur refused, he was publicly beheaded in the center of Delhi. His crime, defending the right to freedom of belief of those of a different religion to his own. 

The universal right to freedom of belief is emphasized in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, written in the aftermath of the Second World War. We all applaud its lofty sentiments, but all too often put these below trade and economic interest. For example, questions have been recently asked about the selling of arms to Saudi Arabia in the light of the killing of the prominent journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the on-going conflict in Yemen. 

Guru Teg Bahadur set the bar high when on a cold winter’s day, he gave his life in the defense of human rights and gave stark reality to Voltaire’s, famous words: ‘I may not believe in what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it. Yet, in the Sikh view, fundamental human rights will continue to be ignored unless those in power and authority are prepared to put these rights well above the false lure of short term economic gain.