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Conservative Leader Scheer Accused Of Insulting Sikh Community On Bandi Chhor Divas

The alleged insult, intentional or unintentional, is related to Bandi Chhor Divas, a Sikh celebration which coincides with the big Diwali celebrations, is meant to celebrate the release of Sri Guru Hargobind, and other 50 Royal prisoners, from captivity.

VANCOUVER – Losing last week’s election is weighing on the mind of Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer , who was called out over a social media post that was meant to mark a Sikh celebration — but used an image of another festival instead.

The erroneous tweet and Facebook post, published on Sunday, were flagged by social media users but were not addressed by the party. Many Sikhs found the image and greeting insulting as it was clearly not about Sikhism.

Scheer’s tweet was deleted after the Global News called the party for comment and ran a story. The photo was also removed from Facebook.

The alleged insult, intentional or unintentional, is related to Bandi Chhor Divas, a Sikh celebration which coincides with the big Diwali celebrations, is meant to celebrate the release of Sri Guru Hargobind, and other 50 Royal prisoners, from captivity.

However, the photo used in the tweet is from a Theyyam ritual in Kerala, India. Theyyam, which has several variations, celebrates Hindu deities, reported Global News.

Balpreet Singh, the legal counsel for the World Sikh Organization of Canada, told Global News that the mix-up isn’t ideal, but it’s the delay in taking action that is more concerning.

“We thought it was just a mix-up and a few people tweeted about it online. We also added our voice saying that the picture needs to be switched out,” Singh told Global News.

“But after almost 48 hours, there’s been no movement.”

Singh said the organization tweeted at Scheer, asking for the image to be fixed. The organization also contacted members of the Conservative party directly flagging the issue.

The same image on Scheer’s Facebook page also prompted responses from users flagging the problem.

“The image shown by Andrew Scheer in this has nothing to do with Sikh religion. This is a gross misrepresentation,” a user named Ajit Singh wrote.

Another user wrote: “That picture has absolutely nothing to do with Bandi Chhor Divas…”

Singh said the delay in making the change is “insulting” to Sikh Canadians.

“The purpose of these greetings is to show that the party cares about the community, but when they don’t care to get embedded and make sure that they’ve got the right message or the right image, it becomes insulting,” he noted.

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