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The Sikh Coalition Avaaz
December 14, 2013
  • Sikh Coalition Releases FlyRights 2.0

    To national acclaim, the Sikh Coalition, along with national civil rights organizations, released FlyRights 2.0 on November 26, 2013, one day before the most traveled day of the year. FlyRights 2.0 is an enhanced version of a mobile phone application that allows users to file complaints of TSA screening discrimination in real time. The release also received important national press coverage from USA Today, LA Times, CNBC, the Washington Post and the Huffington Post, among several other media outlets.

    This holiday travel season, the Sikh Coalition urges Sikh travelers to understand their rights and download FlyRights 2.0. The app is free and available for both Apple and Android phones.

    Click here to see pictures of the press conference.
    Click here to watch the press conference.
    Click here to read more.
  • Sikh Coalition Reaches Settlement in Federal Lawsuit for Sikh Allegedly Denied Job Because of His Religious Beard

    The Sikh Coalition, Ravinder Bhalla, Esq. of Florio, Perrucci, Steinhardt & Fader, LLC., and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reached a settlement with Tri-County Lexus, a car dealership in Little Falls, New Jersey, on behalf of Mr. Gurpreet S. Kherha. Mr. Kherha, represented jointly by attorneys at the Sikh Coalition and Mr. Bhalla, filed a discrimination charge with the EEOC and a lawsuit in 2009, claiming he was not hired by the car dealership because he maintains a beard, in violation of the dealership’s “no-beard” policy for sales and administrative personnel. Mr. Kherha, who maintains an unshorn beard (and wears a turban) as part of his Sikh religious practice, alleged that he was denied a religious accommodation to the dealership’s dress code policy and refused a position in early 2008 during the recruiting process, despite being fully qualified.

    As part of the settlement, Tri-County Lexus has agreed to pay Mr. Kherha $50,000 in compensatory damages, and has entered into a two-year consent decree with the federal government.

    Click here to read more.
  • California Celebrates Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month

    The California state legislature declared November 2013 as Sikh Awareness and Appreciation month. The Sikh Coalition thanks Professor Onkar S. Bindra for spearheading this effort in conjunction with Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski. California is the only state to recognize a month-long resolution for Sikhs, and this was a perfect opportunity for California Sikhs to spread awareness about Sikhi to their neighbors. Hundreds of California Sikhs, taking inspiration from a list of projects provided by the Sikh Coalition, organized events, led presentations and engaged with the media to celebrate the month.

    Click here for pictures.
    Click here to read more.
  • Sikhs Celebrate Guru Nanak Dev Ji's Gurpurab at the White House

    The White House, for the fourth year in a row, organized a celebration of Guru Nanak Dev Ji's birth on November 20, 2013. The theme of this year's celebration was "mentorship." Consistent with this theme, attendees were asked to invite a young person or young professional as their guest for the celebration.

    This year's celebration featured addresses by accomplished, younger Sikh professionals. Sikh Coalition client, Major Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi; Groundswell Founder and filmmaker Valarie Kaur; law firm partner Nitasha Kaur Sawhney; and United States Agency for International Development official, Romi Singh Bhatia, inspired the attendees by discussing the intersections of Sikhi and the American experience. Sikh Coalition Program Director and Commissioner of the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, Amardeep Singh, delivered closing remarks on the continued resilience and strength of Sikhs in America. Finally, the White House invited families from Oak Creek, Wisconsin to attend the celebration and be recognized by the attendees.

    The Sikh Coalition thanks the White House and the President for their continued recognition and engagement with the Sikh American community.
  • Federal Civil Rights Agency Stands Up for Sikh Americans

    Just over six months after Maj. Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, at the request of the Sikh Coalition, a bipartisan group of its commissioners has asked U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to explain why turbaned and bearded Sikhs are denied opportunities to serve in the U.S. military. This represents the first time that an executive branch agency has asked the Defense Department through official channels to explain why the presumptive ban on Sikh service in the U.S. military remains. We are grateful to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights for taking a positive stand in support of equal opportunity on behalf of Sikh Americans who wish to serve their country.

    Click here to read the letter.
    Click here to watch Maj. Kalsi on C-SPAN.
    Click here to read the Sikh Coalition's statement at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights hearing.
  • Sikh Coalition Senior Religion Fellow Featured on Tony Blair Faith Foundation Videoconference Series

    On Tuesday, December 10, 2013, the Sikh Coalition recognized Human Rights Day with two distinct programs. In the morning, Senior Religion Fellow Simran Jeet Singh stood along side public figures in New York and gave an address on Sikh perspectives and experiences at an event organized by the Human Rights Commission in Yonkers, NY. That same night, Simran Jeet served as a special guest for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation in their videoconference series entitled “Face to Faith.” Simran Jeet’s session was entitled “Human Rights: Talk Back to Hate,” in which he spoke with several hundred students from around the world on what young people can do to preserve human rights and human dignity in our society.
  • South Asian Bar Association Invite Sikh Coalition Staff Attorney To Speak at Forum

    On November 19, 2013, Gurjot Kaur, Staff Attorney, paired up with the South Asian Bar Association of New York and other advocacy groups to participate in a town hall forum held at New York Law School. The event, entitled, "Identity," included a discussion on race, South Asian identity and alliances, NYPD surveillance and profiling, national security issues, and various other topics that affect South Asian communities in the U.S. The robust discussion involved an engaging and constructive back and forth between law students and public interest lawyers. Gurjot shared stories of Sikh Americans and the ongoing legal issues facing our community, including employment discrimination, profiling, school bullying, and religious segregation. Gurjot also had a rare opportunity to hear and address the concerns of minority law students. We encourage the community to come and join us at future events!
  • Presenting the Sikh Experience at the Holocaust Center of Queens Community College

    On November 14, 2013, Senior Religion Fellow Simran Jeet Singh presented at the Holocaust Center of Queens Community College. Simran spoke on the experiences and challenges of the Sikh community, specifically on the challenges to civil rights and human rights. After contextualizing the Sikh tradition, its commitment to justice, and its history of persecution, he addressed key concerns in the modern context, from workplace discrimination and bullying in schools to state-sponsored oppression and violence.
  • Sikh Coalition Policy Director Speaks at D.C. Law School

    On November 20, 2013, the Sikh Coalition’s Director of Law and Policy, Rajdeep Singh, spoke at a panel discussion organized by the South Asian Bar Association of D.C. and the South Asian Law Students Association at the George Washington University Law School. On October 29, 2013, he spoke at a separate panel discussion at Howard University Law School in Washington, D.C. Both discussions focused on post-9/11 violence and discrimination against Sikhs, Arabs, Muslims, and South Asians. The Sikh Coalition is grateful to the organizers of these discussions, including Moh Sharma and Prof. Jasbir Bawa, for helping us create awareness about these important issues.
  • Claremont Lincoln University Invites Sikh Coalition to Speak at the Center for Sikh Studies

    The Sikh Coalition was invited to speak at two lectures at the Center for Sikh Studies, Claremont Lincoln University. After providing background information about the Sikh faith, Advocacy Manager, Simran Kaur, presented to the "Introduction to Sikhism" class about contemporary issues affecting Sikhs in America - particularly around civil rights and women's issues. The presentation was followed by a question and answer session about Sikhi, Sikhs living in the diaspora, and how the community is overcoming civil rights concerns. We are grateful to Professor Brianne Donaldson and Tahil Sharma for including us in this dynamic discussion.
  • Keynote Address at Advancing Asian American Studies Conference

    The Sikh Coalition's Program Director, Amardeep Singh, delivered the keynote address at the "Advancing Asian American Studies" conference on November 4, 2013. The Asian American/Asian Research Institute of the City University of New York organized the conference to explore the intersections of Asian American Studies and the community. Amardeep's address touched on the practical ways academics can impact grassroots organizing and advocacy.
  • Senior Religion Fellow Addresses Illuminated Cities Project Participants

    On November 6, 2013, Senior Religion Fellow Simran Jeet Singh spoke with a group of high school students participating in the Illuminated Cities Project. The students came from the Bronx, NY to Columbia University to learn about hate violence and how it affects minorities in America. Students discussed various issues, including the recent hate crime in Harlem targeting Dr. Prabhjot Singh. At the end of the session, the students announced that in their modern heroes unit, they had already been studying Simran's work. They had selected him as a local hero for New York City and will be publicly recognizing him at a ceremony at their high school in the Bronx on Wednesday, December 18, 2013.
  • Now Accepting Spring 2014 Internship Applications

    Are you a college student, recent college graduate or a law student who is looking for a dynamic internship experience in promoting civil and human rights? If so, be sure to apply for upcoming internships at the Sikh Coalition!

    The Sikh Coalition is looking for passionate individuals dedicated to protecting and advocating for the civil and human rights of all individuals. We are offering part- time internships in New York City and Fremont, CA. Through participating in the Sikh Coalition’s groundbreaking work, interns gain valuable hands-on work experience while creating noticeable change in their communities.

    Click here for further details.

In this Issue

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