Edmonton: Sikhs and fellow students are speaking out after hateful anti-immigration posters targeting men in turbans littered the University of Alberta campus.
“This is shameful that people in Canada are doing this,” said Yadvinder Bhardwaj, president of the Indian Students’ Association at the University of Alberta, which represents more than 2,500 Indian students. “I don’t want this. We are students, we are here trying to get an education, we are not doing anything bad.”
The posters read “f*ck your turban” in white capital letters across the image of a man wearing a turban, adding, “if you’re so obsessed with your third-world culture, go the f*ck back to where you came from!”
Campus security has torn down the posters.
While Bhardwaj— whose mother is Sikh — said he is no stranger to racism on campus, he found the timing of these posters to be especially egregious as they could leave a lasting and distressing impression on new international students in their first few weeks of campus life.
“They might be afraid of this,” Bhardwaj said, hoping this display of racism does not escalate to more violent forms of expression.
The World Sikh Organization of Canada condemned the racist posters.
“Similar posters appeared two years ago in Ontario and are a pathetic attempt at drawing the spotlight to deplorable views that have been rejected in Canada,” WSO president Mukhbir Singh said.
“Despite the claims on this poster, Sikhs are an integral part of the Canadian fabric and we are proud that many turbaned Sikhs serve Canada in the federal cabinet, Armed Forces and many other capacities.”
Canada’s Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and member of parliament for Edmonton-Sherwood Park Tim Uppal both wear turbans.
“These racist posters don’t reflect the inclusiveness Canada is renown for and we know that the University of Alberta and the larger Edmonton community stand in solidarity with Sikh Canadians in saying that this type of messaging is not welcome,” said Tejinder Singh Sidhu, vice-president of WSO Alberta.
David Turpin, president of the University of Alberta, said all of the posters that were brought to their attention have been taken down and any new posters will be removed.
“We are working with University of Alberta Protective Services to find the parties responsible. The University of Alberta is a space that is open to all people and we take pride in the strength of our diverse community,” Turpin said.
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