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Roseville Conference: Shergill Ignores Protests, Honors Kala Afghana


The Sacramento Bee, Aug. 3, 2003

"Some chanted scriptures from the Sikh holy book, while others yelled in anger. About 40 protesters, aggravated by the controversial teachings of a Sikh author from Canada, gathered Saturday outside a religious center in Roseville [California] to protest his appearance there. Sardar [Gurbakhsh] Singh Kala Afghana was excommunicated Jul. 10 [2003] by the Sikh religious authorities in India for challenging parts of the Sikh faith in his books. He was in Roseville over the weekend to discuss his works."
"Because of the excommunication, all Sikhs and Sikh organizations were told by Indian authorities not to support Afghana or have any association with him until he clarifies his position, protesters said. The order has caused a rift among Sikhs internationally. Hardev Singh Shergill, owner of The Sikh Center Roseville Gurdwara Sahib at 201 Berkeley Ave., where Afghana appeared, said he will continue to welcome the author as he has done for the past five years."
"Inside the center, Sikh scholars from across the nation and Canada and India listened intently. Shergill argued that books written by Afghana are in accordance with the Sikh faith, and that it is the excommunication order that defies Sikh religious beliefs, culture and tradition. 'This is a matter of religious freedom and academic freedom,' Shergill said. 'People should have a right to write what they want without fear of persecution.' "
"Others describe Afghana as a cult leader, explaining that his writings undermine the basic principles of Sikh beliefs. 'He also challenges our dress code,' said Jagjeet Kaur, a protester dressed in traditional garb. Baptized Sikhs are required to wear a turban over their uncut hair and a ceremonial dagger. The protesters were also upset about not being allowed inside the Roseville Sikh Center. They say that according to their religion, everyone is allowed to join in fellowship at a Gurdwara."