UK: Police arrest 55 armed men for occupying Sikh temple to protest interfaith weddings

Leamington Spa: A group called Sikh Youth Birmingham said on its Facebook page that a peaceful protest was taking place against an interfaith wedding due to be held at the temple.

By: AP | London | Updated: September 11, 2016 11:06 pm
uk sikh temple, england sikh temple, leamington spa sikh temple, uk gurudwara attacked, leamington spa gurudwara, gurudwara attack london, gurudwara interfaith wedding, uk news, world news Gurdwara Sahib Leamington and Warwick temple: Several hours after the incident began, police said they had made 55 arrests on suspicion of aggravated trespass. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Police arrested 55 people and seized bladed weapons after dozens of men occupied a Sikh temple in central England on Sunday. A Sikh youth group said it was protesting the temple’s use for interfaith weddings. The Warwickshire Police force said officers were called early Sunday morning to the Gurdwara Sahib Leamington and Warwick temple in Leamington Spa, a town 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of London.

Police initially said the group consisted of 20 to 30 people. Several hours after the incident began, police said they had made 55 arrests on suspicion of aggravated trespass. They said no one was injured. The force said “a significant number” of bladed weapons had been seized, though it didn’t say of what kind. Some Sikh men wear a ceremonial dagger known as a kirpan. Police said the incident wasn’t related to terrorism, but was “an escalation of an ongoing local dispute.”

A group called Sikh Youth Birmingham said on its Facebook page that a peaceful protest was taking place against an interfaith wedding due to be held at the temple. They said they were upholding the “sanctity” of the Sikh religious wedding ceremony.

Some Sikhs have previously objected to mixed-faith weddings taking place at Sikh temples. Jatinder Singh Birdi, a former treasurer at the Leamington temple, told the BBC that “there have been tensions that have been going on for a couple of years,” but “nothing has happened on this level before.”