Over a hundred people from the Lower Mainland’s Sikh community protesting outside Abbotsford Centre. (Screenshot from Hamreet Signh public Facebook video.)

Protesters interrupt Indian superstar’s Abbotsford concert over single-language endorsement

Gurdas Maan’s radio show comments cause backlash from many in B.C.’s Sikh community

More than 100 people protested a recent concert in Abbotsford by a famous Indian music and acting star for controversial comments he made on a Canadian Punjabi radio show.

Gurdas Maan performed at Abbotsford Centre on Sept. 21. A few days prior, he made comments endorsing a single national language for India.

“This is necessary that one nation must have one language.” Maan said on the radio show. “France has one language and its people speak it. Similarly, Germany has one language that the entire country speaks. And if our country speaks (one language), what is wrong with it? It should be spoken.”

During the concert, more than 100 members of the Lower Mainland Punjabi community protested outside the arena with large banners. One the signs reportedly said, “Traitor of Punjab’s Mother Tongue.”

At one point, protesters inside the concert carrying signs and shouting slogans interrupted Maan’s performance, causing him to swear at them from the stage. The protesters were escorted out of the arena by police.

A meeting of over a dozen Punjabi groups was organized in Surrey to protest Maan’s comments.

The concept of “one nation, one language” is a policy recently promoted by an Indian cabinet minister. It is a worrying notion for many Sikh immigrants living in Canada, according to University of the Fraser Valley professor Dr. Satwinder Bains.

The Punjabi language is spoken by 33 million Sikhs in India.

The policy induces a fear that their culture is threatened by a large 528 million Hindi-speaking majority, said Bains, who is director of UFV’s South Asian Studies Institute.

“People feel [their language] is always under threat from being subsumed by another larger language. And because the language is part of culture and religion, it has even more stress on it,” Bains said.

Language in India is a political “lightning rod” because of the many ethnic minorities that exist in the country’s very diverse 36 states and territories, said Bains, who earned her doctorate on language policy in India.

India’s current government has promoted many nationalist policies which endorse a Hindu-state ideology, Bains said.

Those nationalistic trends are increasing the local anxieties of many Canadian Sikhs who have maintained close family and cultural connections to India, she said.

“There’s more tension, there’s more fear, there are more people who feel under attack.”

Opinion on the subject of Maan’s comments varies widely and the opinions of the protesters should not reflect the entire Sikh community, Bains said.

Maan has since apologized for his comments on the radio show.

RELATED: Living Legend Gurdas Maan plays to full house at AESC

Just Posted

City of Surrey says pension benefits ‘guaranteed’ for police recruits

A National Police Federation representative says it may not be enough incentive

Surrey-area teens will have a ball at Christmas, thanks to collection effort

Realty company’s Bring on the Balls campaign now in its third year

City ready for ride-hailing, says Delta mayor

The city has set up business licence fees for ride-hailing on par with what taxis in Delta pay

Surrey groups receive funding for training support for people 55-plus

PICS getting $728K to help 120 people over two years

Gift-wrapping tips from a new-to-Surrey pro

Nikki Pursani aims to bring ‘happiness and excitement’ with her Wrapped by Nikki enterprise

VIDEO: More air-passenger rights go into effect this weekend

The first set of passenger rights arrived in mid-July in Canada

Mayor wants B.C. to institutionalize severely mental ill people who are homeless

Those suffering from mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia, need specialized care, mayor says

Five things of note from Trudeau’s mandate letters to his ministers

Some marching orders come from the Liberal Party’s campaign, while others are new additions

Scheer’s resignation tips party into internal war over school tuition payments

The Conservatives have a Toronto convention already scheduled for April

Aid a priority for idled Vancouver Island loggers, John Horgan says

Steelworkers, Western Forest Products returning to mediation

Navigating ‘fever phobia’: B.C. doctor gives tips on when a sick kid should get to the ER

Any temperature above 38 C is considered a fever, but not all cases warrant a trip to the hospital

Transportation Safety Board finishes work at B.C. plane crash site, investigation continues

Transport Canada provides information bulletin, family of victim releases statement

Trudeau sets 2025 deadline to remove B.C. fish farms

Foes heartened by plan to transition aquaculture found in Fisheries minister mandate letter

Most Read