UK advert banned for offending Sikhs

Britain's advertising watchdog has banned an advert by a furniture shop that included an image of Guru Nanak and distorted sacred Sikh verses to suit the company.

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) said it upheld a complaint by a viewer who saw the advert on Sangat TV, which said it accepted the advert because it was already being shown on another channel.

Sangat TV said it had stopped showing it. The television advert for the Birmingham-based The Sofa Factory showed an image of Guru Nanak, and featured a song in the style of the sacred Sikh verses, or Gurmantar, but with the lyrics, in Punjabi: "True name of God is You are wondrous; come to The Sofa Factory in Birmingham; measure and make your corner sofas; reupholster your older sofas".

The lyrics continue: "My father Sarvan Singh sowed the seeds of this business; I come from the village Kooner Dhanni; come on dad; I get plenty of your love and good wishes, plenty of love; you are my guru, my true guru. Sofa Factory".

Upholding the complaint, the ASA said the advertisement may offend sentiments of the Sikh community.

"We considered that the use of the central icon of the Sikh faith and the use and distortion of religious verses to advertise products made light of those important elements of the Sikh faith in a way that was likely to cause serious offence to some members of the Sikh community," it said.

The ASA ruled that the advert must not appear again. Birmingham has a sizeable population of Sikhs. 

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