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Rowdy protest divides Fresno Sikh community

Friday, March 04, 2011

Angry protesters interrupted a religious event at a Sikh temple Friday night --- causing Fresno Police to intervene.

The protest outside the Sikh temple at Dakota and Fresno centers around a controversial religious preacher --- who has divided the local Sikh community.

The guest speaker is such a lightning rod of controversy, even his name is in dispute. Those who protested call him Darshan.

Supporters give him a more revered title--- Professor Darshan Singh. And the debate over his name is only beginning of this religious feud pitting against Sikh.

This rowdy scene---took over Dakota street outside a Sikh temple Friday.

Dozens of protesters from all over the Valley used mega-phones and signs to express their anger---at the Sikh leader- they say insulted their traditional beliefs and got ex-communicated because of it.

"It's been said that from the highest throne in our faith that he is not allowed to go on any stage and speak about these values," Parminder Singh said.

"He's going against our holy scriptures. What more can I take then him saying stuff against the person I believe in," Mangal Kaur said.

The voices of protesters could be heard from inside the temple, while the Sikh leader preached in front of dozens of supporters.

"If somebody is addressing in a religious place, obviously those are good words, and if somebody wants to interrupt that, I would say that's disrespect," Sammar Singh Virk said.

"He's one of the authorities on Sikh religion, so we invite authorities in the Sikh religion to go and give their religious prospect and views," Harcharn Singh Chann said.

A fence separated protesters from supporters Friday.

Fresno Police responded because of noise complaints from neighbors.

They also intervened when protesters threw water at people on the other side. And while tensions were visibly high-----officers didn't make any arrests.

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fresno, fresno county, protest, fresno police department, local, shannon handy
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