Gurratan Singh, a Canadian Member of Provincial Parliament from Ontario, is being lauded for his response to a racist heckler who confronted him on the street during MuslimFest over the weekend in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.
Singh, who is the brother of federal New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh, was confronted by a man while walking outside on the sidewalk.
The heckler, who was holding a phone the whole time as if he were recording the confrontation, repeatedly asserted "I'm not racist," while peppering Singh with questions about Sharia Law and devolving to personal attacks against Singh when he refuses to engage with him.
Instead of engaging the man, Singh responds with "I condemn your racism," and "We don't need that kind of racism in Canada."
You can view the video for yourself below:
Wow. Incredible vid captures Brampton MPP @gurratansingh & NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s brother, facing down a racist… https://t.co/1aw8cK4d7p— Mohammed Hashim (@Mohammed Hashim) 1567384128.0
Singh has responded to the video, crediting his brother with teaching him to always confront racism when he sees it, saying:
"I will never respond to an Islamophobe by stating, 'I am not a Muslim'. Instead, I will always stand with my Muslim brothers and sisters and say hate is wrong. ✊🏾"
My brother @theJagmeetSingh taught me to always confront racism. I will never respond to an Islamophobe by stating… https://t.co/bsAqb4HTtH— Gurratan Singh (@Gurratan Singh) 1567386395.0
The Singh brothers are Sikh, practitioners of Sikhism, which is a religion that originated in the Punjab area of India. Sikhs are often targeted by racists who don't know the difference, so often deal with the same treatment from these people as Muslims.
The heckler has since been identified as Stephen Garvey, leader of the newly formed minor political party National Citizens Alliance (formerly known as the National Advancement Party of Canada). The party platform calls for a full moratorium on immigration into Canada, followed by severely limited immigration while also rescinding Canada's Multiculturalism Act (a law from 1988 meant to promote Multiculturalism in Canada).
Garvey, himself, is facing criminal charges for circumventing election contribution limits during a 2015 race.
Lots of folks on Twitter were not surprised to learn that someone who acted like this was part of a racist, nationalistic organization.
Many were quick to condemn him for his hate.
@BestStephen @mohashim @OhSheri1 @GurratanSingh @sjgarvey there’s no room in Canada for your disgusting xenophobic rhetoric.— Canadian, eh?🦠😷💉 (@Canadian, eh?🦠😷💉) 1567447373.0
Most focused on the important part of this situation, congratulating Singh for his commitment to fighting racism and Islamophobia.
@GurratanSingh @theJagmeetSingh So much respect for you and your brother. Hatred only spreads more hatred. Keep shining!— Saman Jafriسمن جعفری (@Saman Jafriسمن جعفری) 1567417925.0
@GurratanSingh @theJagmeetSingh I respect you, man. Honestly. It takes immense patience to do what you did. You cou… https://t.co/hHiSGqKIZi— Z (@Z) 1567413779.0
@GurratanSingh @theJagmeetSingh Thank you for standing up. You are a gem of a human being!— Haris Leghari (@Haris Leghari) 1567416523.0
@GurratanSingh @theJagmeetSingh Much respect & hope you weren’t too rattled. You handled that racist man with dignity.— Earthling (@Earthling) 1567389758.0
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has also commented on the incident, praising his brother's response.
"I gotta admit, I'm proud of my brother for responding with strength, responding clearly that that is wrong. For so many Canadians this a reality, that what happened to my brother yesterday is not a one-off incident."
"Any time I've been faced — or any time my brother clearly has been faced — with Islamophobia, the response hasn't been, 'Hey, I'm not a Muslim,' it's, 'Hey, hate is wrong and we've got to stand together."
"People, because of their gender, because of their sexuality, because of the colour of their skin, because of their language, because of their religion face that on a regular basis. I want to say to you, don't give up, believe in who you are, be confident, be strong. But it's all our responsibility, collectively, to make sure you don't have to take this on your own."
Islamophobia is a growing problem in Canada, as it is in much of the world. The world needs more folks like the Singhs that commit to confronting Islamophobia and racism when they see it.
The book Not in God's Name: Confronting Religious Violence is available here.
Listen to the first two episodes of George Takei's podcast, 'Oh Myyy Pod!', where we explore the racially charged videos that have taken the internet by storm.
Be sure to subscribe here and never miss an episode.