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Monday, 10 September, 2001, 11:04 GMT 12:04 UK
Sikh admits to BNP talks
Sikhs in temple
Sikhs form the majority of Southall's Asian population
A member of a Sikh group in Southall has admitted to links with the right wing British National Party (BNP).

Last week BNP leader Nick Griffin said he was in talks with a Sikh leader in the west London suburb who was concerned by Muslim extremism.

However doubts were cast on Mr Griffin's claim by members of the Sikh and Muslim communities.

But now the man referred to by Mr Griffin has told the BBC that it was his group which approached the BNP.

Nick Griffin
BNP leader Nick Griffin has meeting planned with Southall Sikh leader

The man who agreed to be identified only as "Mr Singh" for fear of reprisals told the BBC's social affairs reporter Barnie Choudhury that he wanted to highlight how Muslim fundamentalists were targeting young Sikh and Hindus for conversion to Islam.

Mr Singh said: "If it was the other way round and Sikh youths went to Bradford and started converting Pakistani girls can you imagine what would be happening now?

"It would make the riots which happened last summer look like a Winnie the Pooh picnic so why are they doing it to us?"

Mr Singh who said he represented a group of around 100 Sikhs and Hindus said their approach to the right wing BNP should be a "wake up call" to Sikh and Hindu leaders.

"He (Nick Griffin) is one of the few people I know who have actually had the guts to stand up against this rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism," said Mr Singh.

He hoped to meet the BNP leader later this month, Mr Singh added.

'Nave'

But other community leaders have again warned against turning to the BNP.

The director of the Network of Sikh Organisations, Indarjit Singh, admitted there had been some friction between Sikhs and Muslims.

Southall's ethnic mix
Indian: 50.3%
White: 29.8%
Black: 7.5%
Pakistani/Bangladeshi: 7.2%
Chinese: 0.2%
Others: 4.9%
Source: 1991 Census

"That's true in west London and the Midlands but there's no reason why the BNP should be involved in that.

"Sikhs are resilient and strong enough to stand up to that sort of thing by themselves," said Mr Singh.

And Muslim Council spokesman Abdul Jalil Sajid told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that any problems could be sorted out between the communities.

Mr Sajid said: "It is a worrying factor to see that leaders in the community are so nave to talk to these people on the issues where the religious communities have to work together for the common good."

See also:

06 Sep 01 | UK
Southall rejects BNP claims
06 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Sikhs urged to reject BNP approach
24 Aug 01 | UK
BNP: A party on the fringe
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