Congress Should Hear From You About Vaisakhi
For the third year in a row, Members of the U.S Congress plan to introduce a resolution honoring the Sikh community’s celebration of Vaisakhi and core Sikh values such as community service and respect for the dignity of all people. Congressional resolutions allow us to create awareness about the Sikh American community. If you live in the United States and want your Member of Congress to sponsor a Vaisakhi resolution, please click here to send an automatic email to your elected representatives
FBI Finally Recognizes Sikhs in New Hate Crime Tracking Program
After nearly four years of community advocacy
, the FBI has officially released a new version of a training manual for law enforcement, which includes guidelines on how to track Anti-Sikh hate crimes.
Nearly two years after the U.S. Attorney General
announced that the FBI would begin tracking hate crimes against Sikhs and other minority communities, the new version of the training manual is a great step forward in addressing discrimination. Although the manual still needs further improvement, it mentions Sikhs for the first time and has the potential to educate thousands of law enforcement officials about our community.
Click here to read more on next steps
Sikh Coalition Interviewed on MSNBC
On April 1, 2015, Rajdeep Singh, Senior Director of Law and Policy, was interviewed on MSNBC. Rajdeep provided background on the campaign to get Sikhs, Hindus and Arab-Americans included in FBI hate crime tracking and provided insight into the FBI's new hate crime training manual.
for the interview.
Sikh Coalition Weighs in on Indiana "Anti-Gay" Religious Freedom Laws
On April 1, 2015, Rajdeep Singh, Senior Director of Law and Policy, and Gurjot Kaur, Senior Staff Attorney, published an op-ed
in The Huffington Post
on the recent Indiana religious freedom law controversy. Opponents of the law expressed concern that the legislation will allow businesses to target the LGBT community for discrimination in the name of religious freedom. Unlike most media coverage which appeared to equate religious freedom laws solely with conservative views and politics, the Sikh Coalition offered a different perspective. In Don't Nix Indiana Religious Freedom Law, Fix It
, the Sikh Coalition explained the benefit of religious freedom laws but also advocated for the inclusion of anti-discrimination provisions within these laws that protect all communities, including the LGBT community.
Criminal Charges Dismissed Against Kirpan Carrying Sikh
In early March 2015, Shabd Singh Khalsa, a Virginia resident, came to visit New York City. Shabd was walking through a NYC subway station at Union Square when a New York City Police Department (NYPD) officer noticed his kirpan peeking out from his pocket. Shabd was carrying his kirpan, which was folded, in the pocket of his pants. The police officer asked Shabd to hand over the "knife" and escorted him to the police precinct nearby. Shabd was questioned by officers and accused of carrying a "gravity knife" which violates NYC law. He tried to explain that the "knife" was actually a kirpan and a religious article of faith. Unfortunately, Shabd was then issued a criminal summons for purportedly violating NYC Administrative Code 10-133(c), which prohibits the possession of knives in open view in public places.
The Sikh Coalition's Legal Program represented Shabd at his hearing before the Manhattan Criminal Court Summons Division on April 2, 2015. The Sikh Coalition argued that the administrative code in question provides numerous secular exemptions and Shabd was merely exercising his First Amendment rights. The Court immediately dismissed the summons.
"The Sikh Coalition's entire team was incredibly helpful. I contacted them with very short notice of my hearing and within a day, I was in their office discussing the case and how to move forward. Thanks to them, the process was much easier to deal with and a lot less scary! The Sikh community needs to be aware of the excellent services that the Sikh Coalition offers
." - Shabd Singh Khalsa
Sikh Coalition Speaks About Bullying on PTC News
On March 13, 2015, Sikh Coalition Executive Director Sapreet Kaur and Director of Development and Communications Satjeet Kaur appeared on PTC News
to discuss the issue of school bullying. Sapreet and Satjeet answered questions - in both English and Punjabi - on bullying cases and provided tips on what to do if your child experiences bullying. They encouraged parents to engage in open dialogue with their children to find out if they are bullied, as well as to ensure that all bullying incidents are reported to the school - in writing.
Click here to view the interview
Sikh Community Showcased at San Francisco Photo Exhibit
In partnership with the San Francisco Human Rights Commission and Bay Area community groups, the Sikh Coalition supported the launch of a photography project on Islamophobia and post-9/11 ethnic and racial discrimination. The project, entitled “Living in an Unfinished America: Shared Experiences of Discrimination and Resilience by Arab, Muslim, and Sikh Americans
,” showcases the lived experiences of various community members through photography and narrative.
to see photos from the event.
"Race and Violence: What Does Religion Have to Say?"
On March 26, 2015, Senior Religion Fellow Simran Jeet Singh spoke at a gathering organized by Religions for Peace and the Unitarian Universalist Association. The group met at the historic Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Simran Jeet focused his remarks on the theme: "Race and Violence: What Does Religion Have to Say?" Simran Jeet helped connect the dots on how discrimination is a shared experience for people of different backgrounds in America and gave examples of how we can use specific instances of bias as opportunities to help build our communities.
Introducing Our New Staff Member - Harjot Kaur, Community Development Manager (NYC)
The Sikh Coalition is excited to welcome Harjot Kaur to our team as a full-time Community Development Manager based in New York City. Harjot initially joined the Sikh Coalition in January 2013 as a Community Development Fellow and has since been helping lead the Sikh Coalition’s youth leadership development program, the Junior Sikh Coalition. Now, as a full-time staff member and Community Development Manager, Harjot is excited to continue building the Junior Sikh Coalition, further develop our current Know Your Rights work on Bullying and Nirbhau Nirvair campaigns, and expand our community development outreach. Harjot strives to empower and strengthen both the local (NYC) and national Sikh communities through education and social justice advocacy training.
Previously, Harjot worked as a Research Study Assistant at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center where she helped manage clinical trials for the Neurology service. Harjot also conducted research for Johns Hopkins University's program evaluation study on New Jersey's state home visiting program. Additionally, Harjot has interned for organizations including Human Rights Watch and DirectWomen. Harjot graduated magna cum laude from Fordham University with a Bachelors of Science in psychology and anthropology, as well as a minor in Arabic.
Apply Now for Scholarship and Financial Aid!
The Association of Sikh Professionals
is offering tuition awards ranging from $500 to $4,000 per year to college going students. Awards will be in the form of scholarships, grants through endowments, or interest-free loans. Applicants will be considered based on their academic abilities, financial needs, and involvement in Sikh activities. To qualify, you must be attending or be admitted to an accredited 2-4 year college.
To apply, please visit the ASP website
. Deadline for new applicants is June 1, 2015 and re-applicants is June 23, 2015. Results will be announced by early September. The Sikh Coalition encourages interested students to take advantage of this opportunity and apply today!
In this Issue