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Sikh temple will remain closed

http://www.phillyburbs.com/pb-dyn/news/112...005-533231.html :cry:

By JOHN REITMEYER

Burlington County Times

MOUNT HOLLY - A Sikh temple in Springfield where violence broke out between two factions of worshipers earlier this year will remain closed because a judge said he is not convinced another incident won't happen.

A dispute involving two factions of worshipers at Gurdwara Khalsa Dabar, a temple on Old York Road, is being decided through Superior Court proceedings initiated by a lawsuit that was filed last year.

The temple, however, has been closed since April after a massive brawl involving the brandishing of crescent-shaped ceremonial knives called "kirpans" broke out. Five people suffered minor wounds inflicted by the knives, which are part of the religious dress of some Sikhs. More than 100 people were involved in the fight.

At issue is which faction controls the temple and its finances. Lawyers for both sides were in court again yesterday.

The plaintiffs in the case are asking for a reopening of the temple, saying video cameras and off-duty police officers would make the temple safe again. That faction also wants the defendants in the case barred from the temple

The defendants believe the two sides could use the temple on an alternate basis.

After listening to arguments from each side, Judge Ronald E. Bookbinder decided not to allow the temple to reopen. He said there's still no guarantee that violence would not break out there again.

"The number one issue is safety," Bookbinder said.

The judge's decision was punctuated moments later by an argument that broke out between the two factions as they were leaving the courtroom. A Burlington County Sheriff's Department officer had to keep the groups and their lawyers apart as they moved into the lobby of the courthouse yesterday.

The Sikh religion was founded more than 500 years ago in the Punjab region of India. The religion is based on the teachings of 10 gurus and its principles include belief in God, equality of mankind, elimination of social inequality and the value of family and honest work.

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