Sikh Federation (UK) response to the Bloom Review


Critique of the Bloom Review from a Sikh perspective

The purpose of the Bloom Review was to look at how government should engage better with faith groups, instead Bloom for political reasons has used it to target and demonise active Sikh organisations and Gurdwaras who are ‘pro Khalistan’.

Bloom has done a great disservice to the British Sikh community by promoting his own personal agenda. The review is an unbelievably biased and offensive narrative targeting Sikh organisations and Gurdwaras. He has controversially introduced the new phrase “pro-Khalistan extremists (PKE)” defined as an extremist fringe ideology within the pro-Khalistan movement.

The Bloom Review is nothing more than a hatchet job on Sikh organisations and Gurdwaras critical of the Indian authorities, who stand up for Sikh rights, who have successfully challenged the Conservative government on numerous fronts since 2010 and legitimately campaign for the re-establishment of a Sikh homeland.

The author of the review is not a lawyer, but a prominent Conservative Christian with a political agenda who has reiterated the review reflects a personal perspective and represents his opinion. Conservative Ministers and relevant government officials need to tread very carefully with respect to his perverse analysis and recommendations in areas where Bloom clearly lacks knowledge and is no expert with regards to British Sikhs. Any future government, especially a Labour Government should take Bloom’s Review and biased Conservative opinions on Sikh organisations and Gurdwaras with a heavy dose of salt.

Bloom has caused deep offence in the review by unacceptably attacking and questioning Sikh teachings, practices and our religious institutions, undermining the equality agenda, advocating restrictions on freedom of speech and dangerously threatening basic democratic freedoms in an attempt to silence and stop all political engagement with those campaigning for the re-establishment of a Sikh homeland.

Bloom’s personal prejudice and motivation against British Sikh activists highlighting and challenging human rights violations in India and the UK Government’s double standards are driven not only by his political agenda and personal experiences, but the need to appease the Indian authorities. His total silence in the review on mentioning the 1984 Sikh Genocide, the human rights situation in India and the slide in India’s democratic credentials that drives independence movements in India suggests negligence.

Bloom’s failure to properly address the massive impact of the growth in ring-wing Hindu extremism being promoted by the BJP Indian government is a glaring and deliberate oversight noted by many academics and independent commentators.

Bloom has completely failed to understand or appreciate Sikh teachings and history and it is clear the review has been written to appease the Indian authorities without reflecting on the changing dynamics of the British Sikh community over the last 40 years. He has selectively relied exclusively on so-called evidence that is no more than pro-India or anti-Sikh opinions who fear the continued growth in Sikh nationalism and demands for the re-establishment of a Sikh homeland.

Bloom’s report has taken more than three and half years to produce and is not based on independent evidence from reliable sources. He has acted unprofessionally by choosing to quote from Wikipedia and dubious Indian sources whilst totally ignoring “The Idea, Context, Framing, And Realities Of ‘Sikh Radicalisation’ In Britain” report from November 2017 funded by the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (CREST). This was a most comprehensive report produced less than two years before the Bloom Review commenced that concluded Britain had nothing to fear from Sikh activism.

Bloom has gone to extreme and desperate lengths to try and demonise those campaigning for a Sikh homeland in the UK by using historic and irrelevant references from Canada and ignored much more recent and specific evidence from the UK that conclude Sikh activism is not a threat i.e. CREST report. The Commission for Countering Extremism places the risk or activities from Sikhs as one of the lowest in the UK. Data from the Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) confirms that of the 800+ open investigations, none relate to the Sikh community. Yet Bloom ignores all this and attempts to create a false and manufactured narrative around Sikh extremism.

Bloom, the former head of the Conservative Christian Fellowship has shown he is not qualified and lacks knowledge to know what is a “true believer” in other faiths, especially when it comes to Sikhi. Many who practice their faith will find his phrase “make-believers” to justify his personal opinions throughout the report deeply offensive.

In the report Bloom deliberately and unacceptably tries to draw a distinction between those who can genuinely represent the Sikh faith and those who are exploiting the Sikh faith. He does this to justify the Conservative government’s engagement practice for the last five years as regards the Sikh community that ignores Gurdwaras and established Sikh organisations with grassroot support who are vocal to protect the Sikh identity and have successfully lobbied politicians and decision-makers.

Bloom in his review incorrectly implies those opposing the Indian authorities or support a Sikh homeland are divisive and exploiting the Sikh faith knowing they are the same people who have led on lobbying government on many Sikh faith issues for at least the last two decades.

Bloom however avoids making any reference to the Conservative government in May 2020 imposing a non-practising Sikh as the “faith leader” of British Sikhs, a concept accepted by the UK Government to be inconsistent with Sikh teachings. The non-practising Sikh imposed as the faith leader of British Sikhs was forced to resign within a week of his appointment due

to Sikh community pressure. This controversial imposition on the British Sikh community has done lasting damage to Sikh-UK Government relations.

The Sikh “faith leader” was appointed on the advice of Bloom who appears to have taken his forced resignation within a week as a personal rebut given some of his references in the review around the COVID-19 pandemic. The Jathedar of the Akaal Takht (the most senior Sikh spiritual leader) as referred to in Bloom’s Review has written to state this so-called “faith leader” of British Sikhs has no right to represent Sikhs in any capacity as he has widely publicised that he has defied specific religious edicts issued by the Akaal Takht.

The reference to pro-Khalistan activism, a subversive agenda and use of aliases in this review has nothing to do with domestic faith engagement but entirely driven by the foreign policy agenda towards India and commercial interests with an impending trade deal being used by the Indian Government to silence opposition from British Sikhs. The Bloom Review is the Conservatives approach to try and discredit pro-Khalistan groups as they do not like them leading on issues relating to the Sikh faith with the UK Government.

This is why Bloom ignorantly suggests this a diversion tactic by pro-Khalistan groups to divert attention and subvert the British political order. He has alarmingly suggested the UK Government should impede the advance of pro-Khalistan groups and only engage at official and political levels with pro-India individuals and groups. Sadly, we have examples through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests that show Bloom when consulted has prevented Ministers engaging with Sikh organisations e.g. on bullying and physical attacks on Sikh children at school.

Bloom concludes his review on the section on Sikhs by offensively trying to confuse the Anand Karaj (Sikh religious wedding ceremony for two Sikhs of opposite gender) with interfaith marriages. This highlights his lack of understanding of the edicts from the Akaal Takht on who can partake in an Anand Karaj that is non-negotiable. Although in principle Sikhs do not oppose interfaith marriages as this is down to individual choice and have no religious significance.

Coming back to the purpose of the review, Bloom should have identified the serious failings of the current engagement approach of the UK Government with the British Sikh community. He should have made meaningful recommendations as to why the UK Government must properly engage with Sikh organisations with grassroots support to rebuild broken trust and confidence.


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