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The Sikh Coalition Avaaz
June 13, 2015
  • The Anti-Sikh Violence of 1984: Remember, Learn and Act

    This June, Sikhs worldwide remember the Indian Army’s assault on Darbar Sahib (popularly known as the Golden Temple) and dozens of other Gurdwaras (Sikh houses of worship) throughout Punjab in 1984. Code-named Operation Bluestar, the assault claimed the lives of thousands of innocent Sikh worshippers and set the stage for a decade of violent state repression that claimed thousands of lives.

    Like Sikhs worldwide, the Sikh Coalition solemnly remembers the events of 1984, a turning point in modern Sikh history.
  • Why The Supreme Court’s Abercrombie Decision is a Game Changer for Sikh-Americans

    The Sikh Coalition publicly responded to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Abercrombie & Fitch religious discrimination case because the impact that the decision has on the Sikh community is enormous. It was critical that the Sikh perspective be part of the national dialogue.

    Our Op-Ed spent most of June 1, 2015 as the “most read” article on the Washington Post, while our reaction to the ruling was quoted in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Hill and by AFP Newswire, to name a few. Additionally, the New York Times’ Editorial Board, in endorsing the Supreme Court’s decision, recognized that the Sikh community faces similar challenges and discrimination in the workplace. We also explained on Huffington Post why the case is so important for the Sikh community.

    In August 2014, the Sikh Coalition had contributed to an amicus (friend-of-the-court) legal brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the plaintiff. Both last year’s amicus brief and the recent media coverage ensured that a Sikh perspective on this important issue was heard.
  • Sikh Awareness Video Launched in Central California

    On May 27, 2015, a new Sikh Awareness education video was screened to a group of high school students, school administrators and educators at Kerman High School in Central California. Created in collaboration with the Fresno County Office of Education, this five minute video will be offered as a resource to the County’s 32 school districts – representing over 200,000 students. The screening was followed by a discussion where students noted the video would be a useful resource in schools. The event was also covered in an article published by the Fresno Bee.

    Click here to watch the video.
  • "Why Are Only Three Observant Sikh Men Serving In The U.S. Military" Asks NPR

    On June 5, 2015, only a few days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Abercrombie & Fitch religious discrimination case, the program "All Things Considered" on NPR used the Abercrombie decision to frame its story on the Sikh Coalition’s campaign to allow observant Sikhs to serve in the U.S. military with their articles of faith intact. The article and accompanying radio interview explores this issue with Simran Jeet Singh, Senior Religion Fellow, stressing that "the U.S. military is the largest employer in the United States and if the U.S. military is openly discriminating against religious minorities, that gives a green light to employers around the country to do the same."

    Click here for the article.
  • Army Paves Way for Sikhs to Request Religious Accommodations

    In April 2015, the U.S. Army released new rules that will make it easier for observant Sikhs to request religious accommodations for their articles of faith. The prior procedures forced turbaned and bearded Sikh recruits to violate their religion while asking for a religious exception to serve - a Catch-22. Now observant Sikh recruits can continue to practice their religion while the Army decides whether to accommodate their religious articles of faith. However, despite these changes, the presumptive ban on Sikh articles of faith still remains and accommodation requests are still being decided on a rarely-granted case-by-case basis. In other words, while it is now easier to request a religious accommodation within the U.S. Army, it is still difficult to actually obtain one.

    Click here to read our Army Know Your Rights Guide explaining the new process.
  • Executive Director Speaks on Panel at White House Summit

    On May 12, 2015, Sikh Coalition Executive Director Sapreet Kaur attended the White House Summit on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Sapreet also participated in a panel discussion entitled “50 Years Later: New Voices & Strategies for Civil and Human Rights” which explored the techniques and approaches Asian American and Pacific Islanders have developed to keep issues ranging from domestic violence to hate crimes and discrimination – in all its forms – in the national spotlight. In her remarks, Sapreet shared the story of the Sikh American experience, the challenges the Sikh community has faced in the years since 9/11 and how the Sikh Coalition’s work fits into the broader civil rights movement.
  • Sikh Coalition and White House Partner for Bullying Prevention Webinar

    On June 8, 2015, the Sikh Coalition, in partnership with the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, co-hosted a free webinar on bullying prevention for students and parents. The Sikh Coalition joined community activists, including actor Maulik Pancholy (30 Rock, Weeds, and Whitney), to discuss available solutions and resources to create safer schools for all children, and answered community questions.

    This important webinar was a great way to learn how government officials and communities can successfully end bullying in our nation’s public schools. If you missed it, check out the Youtube video of the full session here.

    Click here for the Sikh Coalition's anti-bullying resources.
  • Junior Sikh Coalition Serve on Left Forum Panel

    On May 28, 2015, Torendra Kalicharan, Sunpreet Singh and Divpreet Kaur of the Junior Sikh Coalition and Yardena Gerwin of the Interfaith Center of New York served on the panel, "A Conversation Amongst Youth on Creating Interfaith Dialogue in Schools" at the Left Forum, a three-day social awareness raising conference held at John Jay College. As Divpreet moderated, Torendra, Sunpreet and Yardena discussed in depth what it means to affiliate with different faiths, what the interfaith space looks like at their respective high schools, and how to better these spaces to help build tolerance and awareness. With the recent spate of hate crimes in the United States, and especially those based on religious appearance, the students believed that a greater emphasis on sharing religious cultures with one another could help decrease bias-based bullying and discrimination within schools and even hate crimes later in adulthood. We are working to make the video of this panel available online soon.
  • Executive Director Speaks at UC Riverside Conference

    On May 8-10, 2015, Sapreet Kaur, Executive Director of the Sikh Coalition, spoke at an international academic conference entitled "Living and Making Sikhi in the Diaspora: the Millennial Generation Comes of Age" at the University of California, Riverside. Presenters from all over the world were involved in the conference and included Sikh activists, educators, and Sikh and non-Sikh academics representing inter-disciplinary perspectives. In her remarks, Sapreet spoke about effectively using Sikh institutions, such as the Sikh Coalition, as a means to engage in Sikh activism. We are thankful to Dr. Jasbir Singh Saini and Dr Charles M. Townsend for putting this event together.
  • "Impact of Bullying on Asian American Youth” Panel Discussion

    On May 28, 2015, the Sikh Coalition’s Community Development Manager, Harjot Kaur, participated in a panel discussion entitled “Impact of Bullying on Asian American Youth,” hosted by the Asian American Federation. The panelists discussed the unique challenges faced by Asian Americans when it comes to school bullying. In particular, panelists shared real life experiences, their successes in mobilizing students, the causes and effects of bullying, implications for mental health and well-being, and ways to handle bullying at both micro and macro levels. The panel was well attended with an engaging audience of over 80 community members.

    Click here to watch a video of the panel.
  • Apply to the Junior Sikh Coalition Now!

    The Junior Sikh Coalition (JSC) – a youth leadership and advocacy program – is looking for high school and college students in the Tri-state area who are interested in becoming leaders in their communities. The Junior Sikh Coalition is a year-long program and trains the Sikh leaders of tomorrow in the areas of social justice, community development, advocacy, professionalism, and communications. Through this program, applicants will learn a variety of new skills from experts in the field and gain hands on experience.

    If you want to become a recognized youth leader in your community, apply to the Junior Sikh Coalition today!
  • Are You Our Next Operations Manager?

    The Sikh Coalition is looking for a passionate, self-driven and organized individual to become the next Operations Manager. This is a full-time paid position that includes a full benefits package. Applicant must be willing to work from the New York City office. If you are interested, please send a resume, cover letter and up to four references to jobs@sikhcoalition.org. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis so apply today!

In this Issue

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