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Sikh community expresses grief over racial attack

Written by: Staff

London, Nov 20 (UNI) More than 200 Sikhs from across Britain gathered in Edinburgh at the spot of a racial attack where hair of a 15-year-old Sikh boy was hacked off by four white youths last Tuesday evening.

A prayer vigil at the site was held. The organisers had invited people from all faiths to attend the event. Religious leaders called for calm as hundreds of people gathered for the prayer vigil.

Rab Singh, the vice-president of Leith's Sikh temple, said yesterday's vigil was intended to send out a strong message of peace and religious unity. The gathered throng marched from the Mill Lane temple to Pilrig Park (where the boy was attacked) waving banners and chanting in Punjabi ''the lord is wonderful, his name is true''.

During the two-hour event, candles were lit and religious leaders and organisation representatives offered prayers and sympathy to the teenager's family, and called for interfaith unity and dialogue to counter the violence of the attack.

''The community in Leith is a well-integrated one, and hopefully this is a one-off case.'' Mr Singh added.

Though some community members claim the victim is still extremely shaken and may need counselling, Mr Singh said the boy was recovering well. ''I've spent time with the boy's family, and he is very shocked,'' he said. ''But he was at the temple this morning and he will be all right.'' The community has been working closely with police over the incident, he added.

It is understood that police, who last week launched a dedicated text and email appeal for witnesses, as well as working with schools in the area, have identified a number of suspects and are currently gathering evidence.

Chief Inspector Keith Chamberlain said, ''This was an exceptionally serious incident and will not be tolerated. We are very confident of getting a positive outcome on this case.'' The Reverend Professor Frank Whaling, president of the Edinburgh Interfaith Association, said, ''We are glad to be giving support to the Sikh community today.

''We want to pass on our thoughts, prayers and sympathies to the boy and his family.'' UNI XC LL DS1627

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