Brampton NDP MPP Gurratan Singh is racking up online praise for his response to Islamophobic remarks directed at him at MuslimFest over the weekend.
A video posted online and viewed more than 250,000 times shows Singh, who represents the riding of Brampton East, responding to a man’s anti-Muslim remarks at the event in Mississauga, Ont.
In the video, Singh tells the man that he condemns racism.
Singh told CityNews the incident occurred just moments after he spoke on stage at MuslimFest.
He said while the man who approached him didn’t really give him a chance to walk away, he took it as an opportunity to “denounce his hatred” because there were so many young people in the crowd.
“My heart went out to them because it was MuslimFest. It’s a time where Muslims are coming together to celebrate who they are and to have a guy come there, when they are trying to bring people together and he is trying to be divisive. That was wrong and I felt like I needed to be a voice to really denounce that hatred.”
Singh, who is Sikh, also tweeted that he will never respond to Islamophobia with “I am not a Muslim.” He says that instead, he will stand with Muslims and say that hate is wrong.
“It was something my brother’s always taught me. Anytime, we see racism we have to denounce clearly and we have to name it,” said Singh. “I just did my best to say ‘This is wrong what you are saying, this is racist and it has no place here in Canada.’”
My brother @theJagmeetSingh taught me to always confront racism.
I will never respond to an Islamophobe by stating, “I am not a Muslim”.
Instead, I will always stand with my Muslim brothers and sisters and say hate is wrong. https://t.co/MaBPc3sBb1
— Gurratan Singh (@GurratanSingh) September 2, 2019
When asked whether he believed the man was trying to get a reaction out of him, Singh said, “When you have an individual who is purposefully coming to MuslimFest to create this kind of divisiveness, they want to get a reaction out of people and they want to use it as a way to divide us further.”
He added he was also very impressed with the response from the organizers and young people around him during the incident. “They responded so responsibly and so professionally, I am really actually inspired by their response in the face of so much hate and anger.”
Singh’s brother is federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who made headlines in 2017 for responding to a woman’s racist diatribe by saying that he supported her rights but wouldn’t be deterred by hatred.
In both cases, the Singhs were asked whether they support Shariah law.
At a news conference on Monday, the federal NDP leader said he’s sorry young people at the festival had to hear the man’s Islamophobic remarks.
“I’m really sorry that that happened in a community where a lot of young people were hoping to be in a safe space,” Singh said. “[Young people] were hoping that at…MuslimFest they could celebrate who they are, celebrate their identity and not face that Islamophobia.”
Singh added that the main point of the festival is to fight hate in the community.
“The whole purpose of the [festival] is to combat Islamophobia and celebrate their culture.”
MuslimFest organizer Arif Zia said in a statement, it was “unfortunate an anti-Muslim heckler came to destroy the peace and project Islamophobic rhetoric at MPP Gurratan Singh.”
“We applaud MPP Gurratan’s rejection against the racism and hatred. We appreciate his inclusive sentiments to stand with the Canadian Muslim community.”
Zia added security swiftly handled the situation and the heckler left the festival shortly after, but stayed outside the perimeter until 11 p.m.
Online, some Twitter users are applauding Gurratan Singh for refusing to point out that he isn’t Muslim.
I respect you, man. Honestly. It takes immense patience to do what you did. You could’ve easily stopped the person by saying ‘I’m not muslim’… & I wouldn’t hate or disrespect you for that. But the fact that you didn’t… has made all the difference! That’s insane. Thank you
— Z K (@Zuha25) September 2, 2019
Ooooh. That makes sense. I’ve always wondered why Jagmeet didn’t just say “I’m not muslim” when nonsense like this happens but that explanation makes sense. Thanks Gurratan!
— Anthony Jocko (@AnthonyJocko) September 2, 2019