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More Vandalism at Hamilton Gurdwara


The Toronto Star, Hamilton (Ontario, Canada), Mar. 21, 2003

"Members of the local Sikh community chased off vandals who hurled beer bottles at their Dundas temple in what has become a long series of attacks. Police and members of the Gusikh Sangat Sikh temple just west of Highway 6 say there have been six attacks in the past few months. Some have been limited to thrown eggs. Others have included damage to cars, bricks and a masonry block thrown through a window. 'It will cost about $1,000 to replace that window,' says temple president Tejinder Singh looking at the front lobby's pane of plate glass smashed in Jan. The window was supposed to be unbreakable, he says, 'but not when you throw half a cement block at it.' "
"Vandals returned to the temple early Saturday morning, throwing eggs and beer bottles at the partially completed building. Police said the attack was discovered by an officer doing a special attention patrol on the temple who came across a lot of broken beer bottles. Detective Steve Hahn, of the Hamilton police hate crime unit, said investigators have a witness and suspects and are confident they'll catch the carload of people responsible for the weekend vandalism. 'We have had special attention patrols on the temple for five weeks,' Hahn said. What isn't clear is the motivation behind the string of incidents."
"Hahn said the investigation has found 'animosity in the (neighbourhood) regarding the height of the building. People we spoke to indicate the building height is an issue.' That issue could be leftover hostility from the controversial bylaw and political battle several years ago that permitted the congregation to build a 37-metre-high glass dome despite local bylaws and neighbour complaints. Hahn said the investigation has found no link between vandalism at the temple and war tensions stemming from the war on Iraq or intolerance that have left many visible minorities from various countries fearful. The temple's president, however, says maybe 'the animosity is mixture of both.' "
"Whatever the reason, Hahn said the vandalism is definitely a 'bias-related offence,' a crime that is committed against someone or a group because of who they are, where they are from or what they believe. The temple is a construction site not unlike other such sites which suffer theft and vandalism, he said, but there's no doubt that it's more than mischief and is viewed as hate crime. The Criminal Code of Canada allows for increased penalties for those convicted of hate/bias crimes. 'It's a temple,' Hahn says. 'It's quite clearly a temple . . . and there's bias or prejudice against these people because they are a visible minority.' "
"There may not be any hateful graffiti to prove the point but it's a place of worship belonging to specific group that's been attacked. There's a Seventh Day Adventist church just on the other side of Old Guelph Line but it was not attacked. The damage to the temple is not just broken windows, shattered eggs and smashed beer bottles, says its president. 'It's also emotional damage,' he says. 'People work hard all week and then come to worship on Sunday and have to see this.' The building is being converted by workers from a school to a showcase two-storey temple at a cost of $1.5 million. The dome has more than 80 large glass windows."