Recent acts of vandalism at Hindu temples in the Greater Toronto Area spark concern and prompt calls for action against anti-Hindu sentiments.
February 22, 2023 – A recent spate of vandalism at Hindu temples in Canada has sparked outrage and calls for action from Hindu leaders and community members. Over the past few weeks, several Hindu places of worship have been defaced with graffiti and hateful messages, causing concern and fear within the community.
Pandit Roopnauth Sharma, the founder and spiritual leader of Ram Mandir in Brampton, Ontario, has been vocal about the incidents, calling them a blatant display of anti-Hinduism. Speaking to reporters, Sharma stated, “It is becoming a point whereby we cannot just say we’ll let it go, we have to take a stand. The police department is doing an excellent job, but across the board, we have to tell our political leaders or politicians, the government taking the normal stance on this issue is not enough, we need to go beyond.”
“Any act of intimidation, vandalism or hate in a place of worship is despicable,” said Brampton’s Mayor Patrick Brown.
“And what I’ve seen across the GTA has been very cowardly, disappointing hate towards the Hindu community. I think it’s important as leaders that we stand up and say to any community that is facing hate, that there is zero tolerance for that,” Brown said.
Dr. Budhendranauth Doobay, who heads the Vishnu Mandir in Richmond Hill, also condemned the acts of vandalism, stating, “It is despicable to wake up in the morning and see your temple, or whatever place of worship, with all this graffiti on it. We have left our countries to come to Canada, where it has been very safe. Canada was so safe, you’d leave your door shut but unlocked, but now today we see all these things happening at places of worship.”
The incidents are currently under investigation, and while investigators have not confirmed any links between them, all four incidents included spray-painted messages containing anti-India sentiment and references to “Khalistan,” a name created by Sikh separatists for the concept of an independent Sikh homeland in the state of Punjab.
Peel Regional Police Deputy Chief Mark Dapat did not confirm whether police believe any of the incidents are linked, however he said it’s a possibility investigators are considering. “As far as a connection goes, we’ve had incidents that have occurred at two Hindu temples, one in Mississauga and one in Brampton, so certainly we can explore whether that’s the only connection,” Dapat said. “But there are other working theories that the investigators are exploring at this time.”
The incidents have caused concern among community members, who are calling for more action to be taken to prevent further acts of hate and intolerance.
As hate crimes continue to rise in Canada and around the world, it is crucial for leaders and communities to come together to condemn these acts of violence and work to prevent them from happening in the future. Only by taking a stand against hate and intolerance can we create a world where all people are able to worship and live in peace.