Frankfurt clash highlights fission in Sikh doctrine; Sikhs abroad fear attack has damaged their unity, pride

Frankfurt Gurdwara Center.
Frankfurt Gurdwara Center. Photo courtesy: Facebook

Last week’s internecine Sikh clash in a Frankfurt gurdwara has been condemned by Sikh activists and bodies as disruptive and inflammatory.

Two Sikh groups clashed at the Sikh Centre Gurudwara Frankfurt (Germany) over a programme by Panth Preet Singh, a preacher from Punjab. Police had to intervene to protect the preacher when he was reciting his Katha (story of Sikh preaching) at the gurdwara.

The two groups included members of the Sikh Centre Gurudwara management and several Taxali (traditional thinking) leaders living in Germany and nearby European countries.

Panth Preet is considered anti-panthic by the Taxali leaders, who said he has been distorting the original preaching of the Sikh panth and they always wanted to have a debate with him to which Panth Preet never agreed, said a Sikh leader here.

At least three videos of this fight were released on social media which showed the protests and ensuing violence. In another video, Frankfurt police were seen inside the gurdwara taking Panth Preet away to safety.

“The Taxali leaders had even called police to stop the programme, but the latter did not intervene as it was a religious matter,” said a local leader.

The convenor of the Sikhs’ highest religious body Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh entrusted the task of probing the Frankfurt gurdwara clash to the Sikh Council UK, which will submit its report to the Akal Takht in a month. Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh said that representatives of the council would proceed to Frankfurt and approach both groups.

The Sikh diaspora is aghast over the violent clash, especially at a time when anti-Sikh attacks are on the rise in the US. They claimed that such strife erodes the credibility of the Sikh community as a whole.

Several Sikhs took to social media to condemn the violence and the attackers.

"If you will not stop using swords at each other in the gurdwaras, then other countries will have a pretext to ban 'kirpans'," said Canadian Sikh Harpreet Singh on his Facebook page.