Dr. Prabhjot Singh Hate Crime Update
State and federal law enforcement authorities in New York City are investigating a suspected hate crime that took place on Saturday, September 21, 2013, in Harlem, New York City, that left a Columbia University assistant professor hospitalized. Dr. Prabhjot Singh was attacked by a large group of teenagers who shouted "get Osama" and "terrorist" as they surrounded him on bicycles, pulling his beard and punching him. A Muslim woman was also attacked a few blocks away, and police continue to investigate whether the two crimes are connected.
Working together, the Sikh Coalition and Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) have called on law enforcement officials, including the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), to conduct a thorough investigation of the attack.
Individuals with specific information that could lead to the arrest of the assailants are asked to contact the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force at 1-800-577-TIPS. For more information from the NYPD on the attack and to send a tip to CrimeStoppers, click here
for video from the press conference.
for photos from the press conference.
Sikh Coalition Op/Eds Essays
Following the attack on Dr. Prabhjot Singh, Sikh Coalition staff and advocates wrote essays for publications across the country.
Simran Preet Singh Lamba Promoted to Corporal in U.S. Army
Simran Preet Singh Lamba, the third turbaned Sikh to be accepted by the U.S. Army in over 30 years (despite the discriminatory ban against Sikh articles of faith in the U.S military) recently earned a promotion to Corporal in the U.S. Army.
Corporal Lamba is the first Sikh with a turban and unshorn hair to be promoted to this position in over 30 years. Corporal Lamba, stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Tacoma, Washington, is also the only enlisted Sikh-American soldier with a turban and beard in the U.S. Armed Forces. Major Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi and Captain Tejdeep Singh Rattan, who are officers in the U.S. Army, are the only other turbaned Sikhs who have been accepted by the Army in recent years. All three are represented by the Sikh Coalition and the law firm McDermott Will & Emery.
"There is nothing about my Sikh religious beliefs and articles of faith that stopped me from excelling in military service and I can assure everyone, it won't stop other observant Sikhs from performing well in military service either," said Corporal Lamba.
We congratulate Corporal Lamba on this amazing achievement and firmly stand by our position that being a soldier and being a Sikh are fully compatible. We hope the U.S. Armed Forces open their doors to all Sikhs who wish to join and proudly serve their country, like Corporal Lamba.
For a news article on Corporal Lamba’s promotion, click here
To sign a petition to President Obama, click here
To send a letter to Congress, click here
Major Retailers Pull Offensive ‘Turban and Beard’ Costume
Responding to concerns expressed by the Sikh Coalition, several major retailers—including Walmart, Amazon, Rite Aid, and Sears—have agreed to stop selling a Halloween costume resembling Osama bin Laden. Apart from promoting negative stereotypes about turbans and beards that lead to violence against Sikhs and other minorities, these costumes insult those who lost loved ones during the 9/11 attacks and insult American troops who sacrificed their lives in our nation’s war against Al Qaeda. Several media outlets highlighted the issue, including the Huffington Post
, and msnNOW
Spreading Human Rights Awareness in Indonesia
The Sikh Coalition’s Director of Law and Policy, Rajdeep Singh, was invited to discuss the work of the Sikh Coalition at a human rights conference in Bali, Indonesia from September 18 – 20, 2013. The conference, jointly organized by the governments of the United States and Indonesia, was designed to increase dialogue about how governments and community organizations can combat religious discrimination under the framework of UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18
. The Sikh Coalition emphasized the importance of interfaith coalition building and the vital role that grassroots community organizations have in holding government agencies accountable. These points were highlighted through overviews of several Sikh Coalition initiatives, including the Unheard Voices Project
, AB1964 campaign
, FlyRights mobile phone app
, NYPD law enforcement trainings
, U.S. Senate hearing on hate crimes and domestic extremism
, and successful campaign to include anti-Sikh hate crimes in federal hate crime statistics
. Representatives of the U.S. and Indonesian governments, as well as community organizations, discussed both countries’ human rights laws and ways in which these laws can be strengthened.
The Sikh Coalition is grateful to the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, as well as the Indonesian government and representatives from Indonesian community organizations, for inviting us to share our perspectives on promoting human rights for all people.
to view photos from the conference.
Sikh Coalition Creates “Know Your Rights” Handout About New Federal Kirpan Policy
The Sikh Coalition has created a “Know Your Rights
” document explaining the federal government’s new policy
allowing for greater accommodation of Sikh kirpans in most federal buildings. The federal government implemented this policy on December 10, 2012, and made it public in February 2013. The policy applies to the 9,000+ federal facilities secured by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service (FPS). It is a major step forward for the Sikh community with respect to kirpan rights. We believe that this policy will encourage greater accommodation of kirpans across the country in both the public and private sectors.
to read more.
Sikh Coalition’s Senior Religion Fellow Speaks on Columbia University Panel
On October 1 2013, Senior Religion Fellow Simran Jeet Singh participated on a panel at Columbia University entitled "At 110th and Lennox: The Intersection of Faith, Hate and Community." Other members of the panel included Professor Manan Ahmed of Columbia University, Manmeet Kaur of City Health Works, Activist Sonny Singh, and Professor Mychel Namphy of York College. The discussion focused on hate violence and race issues in modern America, with specific attention to addressing challenges in the local Harlem community and building bridges with the Sikh American community.
Sikh Coalition Legal Director Speaks about Workplace Religious Freedom Law in California
On October 5, 2013, the Sikh Coalition's Legal Director Harsimran Kaur spoke at the California Employment Lawyers Association's (CELA) 26th Annual Employment Law Conference
in San Jose, CA on a panel entitled "Accommodating Our Lives." Harsimran spoke about AB1964, California's strengthened law protecting workers against religious discrimination in the workplace. The information was well-received by the CELA members, who exclusively represent employees and workers in employment cases.
Junior Sikh Coalition Participates in NBC News Education Nation Student Town Hall
Five members of the Junior Sikh Coalition
(JSC) participated in the NBC News Education Nation Student Town Hall
, which was moderated by MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry. JSC members were part of a delegation of nearly 300 students from a wide array of schools and were there to represent their peers on issues faced by students around the country. The show covered topics including standardized testing, student safety, student nutrition, the use of technology in the classroom, and more. The event was great exposure for the Sikh youth, gave them a glimpse into how media works, and gave them an opportunity to raise their voices at a town hall meeting.
Sikh Coalition Senior Religion Fellow Participates in Two Interfaith Events
On September 20, 2013 Senior Religion Fellow Simran Jeet Singh participated in two interfaith programs in the NYC area. In the morning, he served on a panel for a group of Presbyterian leaders tasked to develop interfaith perspectives and positions on behalf of the Presbyterian Church. His talk focused on Guru Nanak's approach to social interactions and religious diversity. That afternoon, Simran Jeet joined a group of representatives from various faith communities to explore how their faith practices contributed to contemplation and spiritual growth. This program was led by The Contemplative Alliance, GPIW, and Shinnyo-en based in New York City.
Sikh Coalition Discusses Sikh Civil Rights Issues at The Hume Center
On October 7, 2013, Advocacy Manager Simran Kaur was invited to speak at The Hume Center in Fremont, CA. The Hume Center provides culturally sensitive and comprehensive behavioral health care services and training. The discussion focused on Sikh civil rights issues, specifically school bullying concerns for Sikh American children. In addition, a Sikh Awareness presentation was provided to the group. The discussion was specifically aimed at members of The Hume Center working with South Asian clients.
Sikh Coalition Hosts "Leadership Breakfast" for Coro New York Leadership Center Fellows
On October 4, 2013, the Sikh Coalition hosted a "Leadership Breakfast" for the 2014 Public Affairs Fellows of the Coro New York Leadership Center
. The Coro New York Leadership Center develops and trains current and future leaders in New York City. Its Public Affairs Fellows
program is a nine-month, full-time, graduate-level leadership training program that "prepares committed individuals for effective and ethical leadership in the public arena." Coro's newest group of Fellows came to the Sikh Coalition office to interview the Sikh Coalition's Program Director, Amardeep Singh, on leadership and issues affecting the Sikh American community. Amardeep is a 2005 graduate of the Coro's Immigrant Civic Leadership
Program. We thank Coro for its continuing support and partnership with the Sikh Coalition.
Register for the NYC Bowl-a-thon Today!
The Sikh Coalition’s fourth annual NYC Bowl-a-thon
is now on November 24, 2013 at 300 Bowl (23rd St. & the Hudson River, New York, NY 10011). Join us
as we bowl a strike for Sikh Rights! Lanes will fill up fast so join or start a team
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