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Dalai Lama met by protestors during visit to Aldershot

dalai lama

6:01am 29th June 2015
(Updated 2:19pm 29th June 2015)

Protestors have met the Dalai Lama during his visit to Aldershot.

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader has opened a Buddhist community centre this morning.

He then addressed a crowd at the home of Aldershot Town Football Club.

Thousands packed inside the stadium to hear what he had to say about Buddhism in the 21st Century.

Huge crowds waited outside too, keen to get a glimpse of one of the world's most iconic figures.

It is the second time the Dalai Lama has visited Aldershot in recent years, following an appearance in 2012.

But there was a difference this time, with a group called the International Shugden Community protesting outside the stadium throughout.

dalai lama

(Dalai Lama protestors making themselves heard in Aldershot)

Protest organisers claim more than 500 people turned up and they certainly were vocal, with chants of 'Stop lying, false Dalai Lama' a constant backdrop.

The group claims the Dalai Lama encourages their persecution in exiled Tibetan communities by criticising their beliefs.

Nicholas Pitts is spokesman for the ISC: "There are signs in shops, restaurants, even medical facilities say they won't be served simply because of their faith.

"That is obviously outrageous and that is what we're campaigning to bring an end to.

"Ideally what we want is for him to make a written statement that he doesn't support the discrimination of Shugden Buddhists, he doesn't want this segregation, he wants them to be welcomed back into the community and be given the same rights as everyone else."

dalai lama

 

Dalai Lama protestors

(ISC protestors met in London on Saturday)

An alliance of 10 UK Buddhist Organisations have written an open letter, accusing the ISC of misleading people.

It says: "We are very concerned about the protesters' aggressive, misleading and unethical behaviour and the false image being presented to the public.

"The UK Buddhist Organisations signed up to this statement express their respect and support for His Holiness' stance on promoting wider religious harmony between the religious traditions and on promoting mutual respect and admiration between the Buddhist traditions.''

They describe the ISC as a "highly sectarian" group which aims "to destroy the religious and moral authority of His Holiness the Dalai Lama", adding that "this also suits the Chinese Communist Party very well."

However not everyone is protesting, many hold encouraging flags and signs, one of which saying 'Long live the Dalai Lama'.

dalai lama

Darma Ghale is from the Buddhist Community Centre UK, based in Aldershot.

He says the Dalai Lama is about peace and thinks the protest planned for today's event is wrong: "One of the unique things about His Holiness is he embraces all faiths.

"He sends the message to all human beings that we are all the same and we should really respect each other.

"His Holiness never suppresses, he never has a biased view.

"I don't know where the ISC are coming from, we disagree but we respect them and we want them to respect us too."

Eagle is at the event - stay with us for the latest.

dalai lama

 

dalai lama

(The Dalai Lama spoke at Aldershot Town's ground in 2012)

 

Video footage from the ISC protest in London on Saturday

 

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