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The Sikh Coalition Avaaz
February 15, 2014
  • Changes in U.S. Military Religious Accommodation Guidelines; Presumptive Ban on Sikh Articles of Faith Remains

    On January 22, 2014, partly in response to pressure from the Sikh Coalition, the Pentagon issued new rules governing religious liberty in the U.S. military. While the policy revisions provide a framework through which Sikh service members may continue to seek religious accommodations, we caution that uniform rules restricting Sikh articles of faith remain intact. While the Sikh Coalition is deeply appreciative that the Pentagon expressed a new openness to accepting requests for accommodation by all armed service members of faith, we are however disappointed that the presumptive ban on Sikh articles of faith remains intact. To be clear, despite the Pentagon's announcement, Sikh Americans must still go through a lengthy and uncertain administrative process before being approved to serve in the military with their religiously-mandated turbans and beards.

    Click here to read more
  • Sikhs Pack Congressional Hearing Room

    On January 29, 2014, Sikh Americans packed a Congressional hearing room and a hearing overflow room to press the Pentagon to modify new uniform and grooming regulations that place a presumptive barrier to Sikh military service in the United States.

    The hearing before the United States House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel focused in part on new Pentagon guidelines that give the military more latitude to accommodate service members’ religious practices. During the hearing, Representative Joseph Heck of Nevada implored the Pentagon to end the presumptive ban on Sikh service in the U.S. Armed Services.

    Click here to see photos from the hearing
    Click here to see a video from the hearing
    Click here for the Sikh Coalition Statement for the Hearing Record
    Click here for Major Kamaljeet Singh Kalsi Statement for the Hearing Record
    Click here for Corporal Simranpreet Singh Lamba Statement for the Hearing Record
  • Media Mentions on the New Pentagon Policy

  • Sikh Coalition Staff Attorney a Contributor on Huffington Post

    Sikh Coalition Staff Attorney Gurjot Kaur is now a contributor to the Huffington Post. In her first post, Gurjot analyzes the new Pentagon rules on religious accommodation in the U.S. Armed Services. While Gurjot acknowledges that the Department of Defense has made progress by creating an official accommodation process for service members of all faiths, she highlights the problems and challenges that remain for Sikhs who wish to serve our country and retain their articles of faith.

    Click here to read the blog post
  • Interfaith Dialogue with Local Presbyterian Community

    On the weekend of February 1, 2014, the Sikh Coalition piloted a new dialogue series -- "Neighbor to Neighbor" -- with leaders of the Presbyterian Church. Presbyterian communities gathered in various New York City locations during the weekend to learn about Sikh traditions and experiences. The dialogues were organized and attended by senior leaders in the Presbyterian Church, and we hope that the program will be picked up by communities all over the country.

    Click here for coverage by PTC Punjabi
  • Sikh Awareness at San Quentin State Prison

    The Sikh Coalition was recently asked to present to a group of inmates at San Quentin State Prison in Northern California. Organized by the Asian Prisoner Support Committee, which has a weekly class inside San Quentin State Prison called ROOTS (Restoring Our Original True Selves), the Sikh Coalition was invited to make a presentation about the Sikh community. The presentation was given by Sikh Coalition Advocate, Winty Singh and Advocacy Manager, Simran Kaur, and included a Sikh awareness presentation followed by a discussion on the post-9/11 challenges experienced by the Sikh community, including hate crimes, school bullying, religious profiling and workplace discrimination.

    "One of the most moving parts of our presentation was when we were asked to provide the opening meditation for the class. We chose to open with a few minutes of simran, and were taken with how each inmate participated fully in repeating “Waheguru” for several minutes with no qualms or hesitation. Beyond our reaction, for the Punjabi Sikhs in our audience, it was the first taste of sangat they’d had in many years of incarceration."

    Click here to read more
  • "How it Feels to Look Different" Webinar

    On January 30, 2014, the Sikh Coalition presented a webinar hosted by Neurofibromatosis Midwest that explored the shared experience of individuals with distinct appearances. Patients of neurofibromatosis experience noticeable tumor formations and are often socially misunderstood and mistreated. Our Senior Religion Fellow, Simran Jeet Singh, explored the overlaps across Sikh and NF experiences in a presentation entitled "How it Feels to Look Different."
  • Junior Sikh Coalition Participate in Interfaith Debate Program

    Since January 2014, members of the Junior Sikh Coalition (JSC) have been involved in a "Debate in the Neighborhood" program headed by the Interfaith Center of New York. Faith-based youth groups from New York City are trained in public speaking and critical thinking techniques to ultimately compete against each other in a final debate tournament in April. In addition to sharpening their communications skills, this program also allows JSC to engage with youth from other communities, learn of challenges they struggle with, and educate others on issues our Sikh youth face. Check back in April to see how our youth did.
  • Council on Foreign Relations Feature Senior Religion Fellow

    The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the nation's premiere think tank for foreign policy, featured Senior Religion Fellow Simran Jeet Singh in its Religion and Foreign Policy Bulletin this past month. Simran's focus on issues of religion, foreign policy, and national security have increased over the past few years, and he has become a regular member of CFR's Religion and Foreign Policy Group.

    Click here for the CFR's write-up on his work
  • Apply Now! Job Posting: Community Development Manager

    The Sikh Coalition is looking for individuals with a passion for social justice and youth leadership development to become our next Community Development Manager. The ideal candidate will strongly relate to members of the Sikh community, have an outgoing personality, be achievement oriented, gain the trust of community elders and adults and be able to effectively engage various city and state government officials, all with the aim of ultimately empowering the Sikh community to be advocates for their rights.

    If you are interested in applying, please look at the full job description and submit your cover letter and resume to jobs@sikhcoalition.org. The Sikh Coalition is an Equal Opportunities Employer.
  • The Sikh Coalition Is Accepting Applications for Spring and Summer Internships

    The Sikh Coalition Internship Program gives students hands-on experience in promoting civil and human rights. Through the years, interns have worked to further the mission and vision of the Sikh Coalition by helping to achieve legal victories, as well as educating and empowering the community and contributing to the growth of the organization. For more information about our internship program, please click here.

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