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The Sikh Coalition Avaaz
June 16, 2013
  • Media Highlights FBI's Decision to Track Hate Crimes Against Sikhs

    On June 5, 2013, an advisory policy board of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) voted to begin tracking hate crimes against Sikhs, the way it does for other communities. The Sikh Coalition first raised this issue in January 2011 and spearheaded a multiyear campaign in support of Sikh hate crime tracking that was endorsed by 140 bipartisan members of Congress and the U.S. Attorney General. The new changes, expected to be implemented by 2015, will strengthen diagnostic and deterrence efforts; increase awareness about Sikhs among law enforcement officials nationwide; and encourage Sikhs to begin reporting hate crimes to local, state, and federal authorities.  Click here to read more.

    Click here to watch a discussion on FOX News
    Click here to watch a discussion on Huffington Post Live
    Click here to read an article in the Huffington Post

  • (Video) Sikh Coalition Co-Founder Featured in Voices of America

    Sikh Coalition Co-Founder, Amandeep Singh Sidhu, was featured in a Voices of America piece on the fight to ensure the FBI track hate crimes against Sikhs. The piece discussed Amandeep's experience suffering a hate crime and the importance of officially tracking such hate crimes in order better address and prevent them in the future.

    Amandeep says “Nearly all men who wear turbans in the U.S. are Sikhs. And so to ignore that reality, and not have some meaningful metrics, tracked by the FBI, tracked by local law enforcement, accounted for in the Department of Justice in terms of their reporting, and their diversion of resources, is just - it's unacceptable.”

    Click here to watch the video

  • Sikh Coalition Testifies Before NY State Senate on Hate Crimes Law

    On June 14, the Sikh Coalition's Program Director, Amardeep Singh, testified before a New York State Senate Committee on ways to improve New York's hate crime law. The Sikh Coalition proposed three principal reforms: 1) Mandatory data collection on hate crimes in each police jurisdiction in the state; 2) The addition of a civil action provision that would make it easier for hate crime victims to sue their attackers when their injuries cause economic or other loss; and; 3) That judges be required to consider restorative justice and education as a means of bringing justice after a hate crime. The Sikh Coalition thanks State Senator Brad Holyman for inviting it to provide testimony on the subject.

  • Decorated Sikh Soldier Presses for End to Ban on Sikh Military Service

    On May 30, 2013, Major Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi --- a decorated US Army soldier who in 2009 received an exception to a decades-old rule barring Sikh turbans and unshorn hair --- provided compelling testimony about why the US military should open its doors to Sikh soldiers at a United States Civil Rights Commission hearing.

    ”The time has come and passed for our military to openly embrace those Sikhs who want to serve our country by removing the rules that exclude them,” said Major Kalsi at a hearing in May. Major Kalsi made clear that Sikh practices do not prevent soldiers from performing with excellence: “By making this call to end the presumptive ban on Sikh military service, let me make clear that I would never advocate for anything that would put my fellow soldiers in harm’s way,” said Major Kalsi. “If Sikhs could not wear helmets or gas masks when required, I would never call on my military to accommodate Sikh American soldiers. But that is simply not the case. Sikh soldiers have served on special forces teams. They have jumped out of airplanes as paratroopers, and have deployed in far forward combat operations. We can serve our country and be Sikh at the same time.” Click here to read more.

    Click here to see photos from the hearing

    Sikh Coalition Executive Director Invited to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Equal Pay Act the White House

  • On June 10, 2013 the Sikh Coalition Executive Director, Sapreet Kaur, joined President Obama and an intimate group of Americans to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Equal Pay Act, which President Kennedy signed into law on June 10th, 1963. However despite passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which requires that men and women in the same work place be given equal pay for equal work, the "gender gap" in pay persists today. Full-time women workers’ earnings are only about 77 percent of their male counterparts’ earnings. As the President recognized in his remarks, there is still more work to be done to realize our aspiration of equal pay for equal work.

  • Sikh Coalition Creating a “Most Wanted” List of Offending Textbook Manufacturers

    The Sikh Coalition is calling on you to look through your child's social studies textbook and find any mention of Sikhs or Sikhism. It does not matter if the information is true or false. We want to know EVERY mention of Sikhs in these books. Click here to fill out the form and to help us find every mention of Sikhs in school textbooks. It is very important that you attach scans of each page that has information on Sikhs or Sikhism. Don't have a scanner? No problem! You can also take pictures of the pages and upload those images as well.

  • Sikh Awareness Work Continues in Texas

    On June 8, 2013, the Sikh Coalition's Education Director, Manbeena Kaur, was invited to present information about who Sikhs are and Sikhism's basic beliefs to a team of educators from Austin, San Antonio, and Houston. The sixth grade, world history and world geography educators who attended the conference got a first hand glimpse into the faith, and received professional materials from the Sikh Coalition on how to teach a lesson on Sikhs when they return to the classroom. The conference director, Elva Gladney said, "Thank you so much for your fantastic presentation. The impact you made on all of us was deep and will be felt by many. You changed all our information base and perspectives which will make the teachers so much more effective."

  • Sikh Coalition Participates in Religious Leaders Diversity Conference Hosted by the Hartford Seminary

    The Hartford Seminary in Connecticut hosted the Religious Diversity Leadership week-long workshop from June 9 - 14. The Sikh Coalition's Education Director, Manbeena Kaur, attended the workshop  and was invited to deliver two presentations titled, "Sikhism 101: Demystifying the Sikh Community" and "Faith the Legal System: How the Sikh Ethos Impacts the Sikh Coalition's Social Justice Work". The Sikh Coalition also worked with the local Southington gurdwara to organize a tour, kirtan, and langar for workshop attendees. The week-long workshop was attended by professors, interfaith leaders, and students working to strengthen and unite interfaith relationships in their own communities. The Sikh Coalition thanks Dr. Lucinda Mosher for organizing the workshop and including the Sikh American experience within the week's activities. We would also like to thank the sangat for their seva, including Ripi Chawla for organizing this. Click here to view pictures from the event.

  • [Guest Blog] Learning from Baba Punjab Singh, Oak Creek Survivor

    In one of the worst hate crimes in recent American history, Baba Punjab Singh, a 65 year-old man, was critically injured during an attack on the Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, where six sangat members were killed and several others were injured. He continues to require around-the-clock, long-term care at an inpatient rehabilitation center. Holly Sennett, a speech-language pathologist, who has been working with Baba Punjab Singh and his family since last fall shares Baba Punjab Singh's heartwarming story and discusses how the tragic events of that day affected not only her life but all of our lives.
    Click here to read her story.

  • Sikh Coalition Addresses Interfaith Conference

    On Friday May 24, 2013 the Sikh Coalition Executive Director, Sapreet Kaur, facilitated a discussion about the Sikh American experience post 9/11 at Nurturing Peace in Contexts of Global Violence Conference at New York Theological Seminary. The conference was attended by theological educators and religious leaders. The conference included tracks exploring the intersections of peacemaking and violence against women and children, violence against marginalized communities, state sanctioned violence, religions of the world and the economy and ecology. For many participants this was their first introduction to Sikhs and the Sikh American experience.

  • Sikh Coalition Addresses Interfaith Group on Accommodating Sikhs in NYPD

    On June 13, 2013, Gurjot Kaur, Sikh Coalition Staff Attorney, spoke on an interfaith panel at the Twenty-Eighth Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer Retreat for Social Justice, hosted and organized by the Interfaith Center of New York, The panelists, including Linda Sarsour of the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition, Reverend Al Taylor of the Infinity Mennonite Church, and Shalawn Langhorn of the Brooklyn Clergy-NYPD Task Force, addressed building partnerships with the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and how these efforts are impacted by the systemic discrimination faced by our communities as a result of controversial law enforcement policies, including "stop and frisk" and unlawful surveillance of Muslim communities in the Northeast.

    Ms. Kaur spoke about the Sikh community's ongoing struggles in persuading the NYPD to religiously accommodate Sikh police officers and our efforts to educate the police about Sikhs by training graduating police recruits each year. Ms. Kaur noted the experiences of Amric Singh Rathour, a Sikh traffic enforcement agent and former Sikh Coalition client, who was accommodated by the NYPD in 2003, along with another Sikh. Mr. Rathour, who directed traffic in downtown Brooklyn and downtown Manhattan, explained that during his time with the NYPD, he never once received a negative comment from members of the public about his turban and unshorn beard. Instead, bus drivers, construction workers, and pedestrians would stroll up to him, even stopping their cars, to say, "It's great seeing you here. It's good to have you serving." Ms. Kaur emphasized that New York City appreciates diversity and that while the NYPD has opened its doors to Sikh traffic enforcement agents, it's time to do the same for Sikh police officers.

  • Sikh Coalition Speaks About Religious Freedom in America

    On May 30, the Sikh Coalition's Program Director, Amardeep Singh, spoke about the state of religious freedom in America as applied to Sikhs during a live nationally televised panel discussion on CSPAN. The panel was a part of the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s 2013 National Religious Freedom Conference in Washington, DC. Amardeep specifically discussed the intersection of US law and the Sikh experience as it relates to employment discrimination, school bullying, profiling, and hate crimes during his presentation. The conference was an opportunity for leaders of diverse faiths to join forces with bipartisan legislators from across the country to talk and strategize about defending religious freedom for all. The Coalition thanks the American Religious Freedom Program of the Ethics and Public Policy Center for organizing this vital gathering of national faith community leaders and for inviting it to participate.

    Video of the panel can be seen here.

  • Sikh Coalition Offers Prayers at 11th Annual Interfaith Awards Dinner

    The Sikh Coalition was invited to the 2013 James Parks Morton Interfaith Awards Dinner this week to offer a Sikh prayer and blessing for the dinner. Director of Community Development, Tejpreet Kaur explained the history of langar and recited a shabad in front of the packed room. The Sikh Coalition was one of many faith communities who attended the awards dinner that recognized the contributions of civil and human rights leaders. This year’s honorees included, Bill & Judith Moyers, Sister Pat Farell, Rev Dr. C Vivian, and Russell Simmons.

  • Junior Sikh Coalition Members Undergo Advocacy Training

    Last month, the Sikh Coalition’s advocacy team facilitated a full day workshop called the Junior Advocate Training to the Sikh Coalition’s youth leadership development team, the Junior Sikh Coalition. The comprehensive training enabled Junior Sikh Coalition members to gain hands on experience in developing advocacy strategies for their anti-bullying efforts. They learned approaches to engaging with government and media in order to address school bullying in their local communities.

    The Junior Sikh Coalition plans to utilize these new skill sets in their anti-bullying campaign, Nirbhau-Nirvair. See pictures here.

  • Sikh Coalition Welcomes 2013 Summer Interns

    The Sikh Coalition is pleased to welcome its 2013 summer interns! We are looking forward to a productive summer with this high caliber group of energetic and diverse students!

    New York Office

    • Dr. Bajwa Legal Fellows: Shashwat Dave and Anna Jay
    • Social Justice Advocacy Intern: Harleen Kaur
    • Social Justice Education Intern: Damanpreet Singh
    • Development Intern: Inmeet Singh
    • Operations Intern: Maneet Singh

    California Office

    • Social Justice Advocacy Intern: Jasdeep Kaur

    The internship program allows students pursuing undergraduate or graduate studies to gain hands-on experience in promoting the civil and human rights of all individuals. For more information about our internship program, please click here.

In this Issue

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