Over a hundred people from the Lower Mainland’s Sikh community protesting outside Abbotsford Centre. (Screenshot from Hamreet Signh public Facebook video.)

Protesters interrupt Indian superstar’s Abbotsford concert over single-language endorsement

Gurdas Maan’s radio show comments cause backlash from many in B.C.’s Sikh community

More than 100 people protested a recent concert in Abbotsford by a famous Indian music and acting star for controversial comments he made on a Canadian Punjabi radio show.

Gurdas Maan performed at Abbotsford Centre on Sept. 21. A few days prior, he made comments endorsing a single national language for India.

“This is necessary that one nation must have one language.” Maan said on the radio show. “France has one language and its people speak it. Similarly, Germany has one language that the entire country speaks. And if our country speaks (one language), what is wrong with it? It should be spoken.”

During the concert, more than 100 members of the Lower Mainland Punjabi community protested outside the arena with large banners. One the signs reportedly said, “Traitor of Punjab’s Mother Tongue.”

At one point, protesters inside the concert carrying signs and shouting slogans interrupted Maan’s performance, causing him to swear at them from the stage. The protesters were escorted out of the arena by police.

A meeting of over a dozen Punjabi groups was organized in Surrey to protest Maan’s comments.

The concept of “one nation, one language” is a policy recently promoted by an Indian cabinet minister. It is a worrying notion for many Sikh immigrants living in Canada, according to University of the Fraser Valley professor Dr. Satwinder Bains.

The Punjabi language is spoken by 33 million Sikhs in India.

The policy induces a fear that their culture is threatened by a large 528 million Hindi-speaking majority, said Bains, who is director of UFV’s South Asian Studies Institute.

“People feel [their language] is always under threat from being subsumed by another larger language. And because the language is part of culture and religion, it has even more stress on it,” Bains said.

Language in India is a political “lightning rod” because of the many ethnic minorities that exist in the country’s very diverse 36 states and territories, said Bains, who earned her doctorate on language policy in India.

India’s current government has promoted many nationalist policies which endorse a Hindu-state ideology, Bains said.

Those nationalistic trends are increasing the local anxieties of many Canadian Sikhs who have maintained close family and cultural connections to India, she said.

“There’s more tension, there’s more fear, there are more people who feel under attack.”

Opinion on the subject of Maan’s comments varies widely and the opinions of the protesters should not reflect the entire Sikh community, Bains said.

Maan has since apologized for his comments on the radio show.

RELATED: Living Legend Gurdas Maan plays to full house at AESC

Just Posted

Oppal says Surrey mayor wrong about policing transition timeline

Chairman of committee overseeing Surrey’s transition from RCMP to city police says work won’t be done by Dec. 11

White Rock waterfront strategy ‘pop-up’ session to be held tomorrow

Event to take place at museum from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

‘A labour of love’: High school turns into ‘toy shop’ for Surrey Christmas Bureau

Fraser Heights Secondary has been making toys for the non-profit for more than a decade

Farnworth says Surrey RCMP boss’s statement on budget should be taken ‘seriously’

Assistant Commissioner Dwayne McDonald warned Surrey’s budget will have “detrimental effect” on policing

North Delta crime beat, week of Nov. 24

A selection of property crimes submitted weekly by the Delta Police Department

VIDEO: Federal Liberals’ throne speech welcomes opposition’s ideas

Trudeau will need NDP or Bloc support to pass legislation and survive confidence votes

VIDEO: John Lennon’s iconic Rolls Royce rolls into Vancouver Island college for checkup

Royal BC Museum, Camosun College and Coachwerks Restorations come together to care for car

VIDEO: Rockslide closes part of Highway 93 in Fairmont Hot Springs

Geotechnical team called in to do an assessment after rocks fell from hoodoos

Chilliwack mom gives back to neonatal unit with Christmas stocking drive

Ashley Durance is paying it forward to other families and their babies following daughter’s NICU stay

Petition calls for appeal of ex-Burns Lake mayor’s sentence for sex assault

Prosecution service says Luke Strimbold’s case is under review

Northwest B.C. wildlife shelter rescues particularly tiny bear cub

Shelter co-founder says the cub weighs less than a third of what it should at this time of year

BC firefighters to help battle Australian bushfires

Canada sent 22 people, including 7 from B.C.

B.C. NDP touts the end of MSP premiums

Horgan, James held news conference to reiterate that people will get their last bill this month

Illicit drug deaths down, but B.C. coroner says thousands still overdose

Chief coroner Life Lapointe says province’s drug supply remains unpredictable

Most Read