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The Sikh Coalition Avaaz
July 11, 2015
  • Fateh! Disney Ends Discrimination Against Sikh Employee

    The Sikh Coalition and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are thrilled to announce that a Sikh employee at Walt Disney World will no longer be kept hidden from public view of Disney visitors because of his religious appearance. After the Sikh Coalition and the ACLU intervened, Walt Disney World agreed to desegregate Gurdit Singh, a mail carrier who had been barred from delivering mail throughout Disney’s resorts and theme parks in view of guests.

    Click here to learn more about the case.
    Click here to watch our new short video on why this victory and our legal work to end religious discrimination in the workplace matters.
  • Solidarity In Response To Charleston, SC

    The tragedy in Charleston, South Carolina is yet another horrific reminder of hate and bigotry and it was also impossible to ignore the tragic parallels between the Charleston violence and the grief our community experienced nearly three years ago in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

    Within hours of the Charleston shooting, the Sikh Coalition engaged the American media with a very clear message of solidarity, quickly partnered with Valarie Kaur and Groundswell to promote messages of Sikh American solidarity with the families of Charleston and collaborated with the One Nation Fund to promote charitable donations back to the impacted community. Sikh Coalition colleagues, allies and Sikh Coalition Advocates were mobilized, and nine Op-Eds were successfuly placed in American news outlets, which reached nearly five million Americans. The Sikh voice matters on this issue and we worked to ensure that our collective voice was heard.
  • Sangats Across the U.S. Prepare For Day of Seva

    Three years after the mass shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, sangats across the nation are coming together to commemorate the tragedy by organizing and participating in a National Day of Seva on August 1, 2015.

    There are already Day of Seva events being organized in New York, NY; Modesto, CA and Bakersfield, CA. Stay tuned for events in Sacramento, CA; El Sobrante, CA; Southern California; Seattle, WA and Champaign, IL. Click here for more information on how to take part in an existing event or for information on how to organize an event in your city.
  • Progress for Ending Religious Discrimination in the U.S. Military

    In June 2015, a U.S. federal judge ruled in favor of Iknoor Singh, a Sikh American Hofstra University student, who had previously been denied the right to enroll in his college Army ROTC program because of his Sikh articles of faith.

    The ruling established that the Army’s denial of Mr. Singh violated his rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and that he now has the right to enroll in his Army ROTC program without shaving his beard, cutting his hair, or removing his turban. “Congratulations to Iknoor Singh and his legal team at the ACLU and United Sikhs. They scored an important victory in the fight for religious freedom,” said the Sikh Coalition’s Senior Staff Attorney, Gurjot Kaur. “We urge the Pentagon to eliminate discriminatory loopholes in its policies and give all Americans an equal opportunity to serve in our nation’s armed forces.”

    Click here to read more.
  • Introducing Our New Law and Policy Director

    The Sikh Coalition is excited to announce our new Law & Policy Director, Arjun Singh. Arjun will replace Rajdeep Singh, who will depart to pursue a second graduate degree at the end of August. Arjun joins the Sikh Coalition team with nearly a decade of litigation and advocacy experience in Washington, D.C. A graduate of New York University School of Law, he spent six years working as a Government Affairs and Litigation Associate at the international law firm of Covington & Burling LLP. While at Covington, Arjun provided significant pro bono legal work for the Sikh Coalition on TSA profiling issues.

    “While it’s hard to replace Rajdeep, there is no better person to fill those shoes and carry forward our policy and advocacy work than Arjun,” said Executive Director, Sapreet Kaur. "After nearly six years with the Sikh Coalition, Rajdeep’s imprints on Sikh civil rights issues leave a legacy that will never be forgotten." We thank Rajdeep for his service to the organization and the community, and welcome Arjun to the team!
  • Please Welcome Our New Operations Manager

    The Sikh Coalition is excited to welcome Damanpreet Singh as our new Operations Manager. Damanpreet will manage day-to-day programmatic and non-programmatic aspects of the Sikh Coalition's work and will be based in New York City.

    Damanpreet previously served as an Education Intern at the Sikh Coalition in 2013. He obtained his B.A. in 2015 from Tufts University, where he studied History. In the summer of 2014, Damanpreet spent time in New Delhi to compile an oral history archive of the anti-Sikh violence of November 1984. While in South Asia, he also served as a volunteer for the 1984 Living History Project. He wrote his senior thesis on ideas of Sikh nation and homeland across the contexts of displacement and migration in Canada, the United States and postcolonial India. He is interested in thinking closely about the intersections between the issues and challenges facing the Sikh diaspora and other communities of color.
  • [Call to Action] Help Us Win The Battle To Protect Sikh History

    As you may have already heard, non-Sikh organizations are trying to erase the unique contributions of Sikhs to American history by advocating changes to the California curriculum. To learn more about this effort, please watch this video.

    You can help further this initiative in any of the following three ways:
    1. Sign and share our online petition. What happens in California sets precedent for the rest of the nation and it is critical that our voices, from all around the country, are heard.
    2. Postcard petition drive: If you are in California, has your Gurdwara participated in a postcard petition drive? The more petitions we collect, the more of an impact we make. If you  would like to set up a postcard drive, please email harjit@sikhcoalition.org
    3. Donate. We need your financial support to keep this work going.
  • Sikh Coalition Provides Expert Analysis Following Landmark Abercrombie Decision

    On June 18, 2015, Sikh Coalition Senior Staff Attorney Gurjot Kaur presented on an expert panel alongside attorneys from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the New York State Attorney General's Office on the state of religious rights in America. Held at the EEOC's New York City office, Gurjot discussed the legal implications of the Supreme Court's recent decision in favor of Muslim plaintiff, Samantha Elauf, in EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch, Inc, and took questions from the audience. She also spoke about Sikh workplace discrimination cases, including the Sikh Coalition's seminal case against the New York City Transit Authority, that have helped to positively mold religious accommodation law in the United States.

    The EEOC's Regional Attorney for New York, Robert Rose, and Chief of the Civil Rights Bureau of the NYS AG's office, Kristen Clarke, provided opening remarks. EEOC Trial Attorney Thomas Lepak discussed the ways in which religion can be used to unlawfully violate the rights of others in the workplace - including proselytizing. New York State Assistant Attorney General Anjana Samant discussed state laws enforced by her office, including the New York State Human Rights Law, which provides greater protections to employees of faith than its federal counterpart. Finally, Columbia University Professor Katherine Franke discussed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the ongoing challenges between protecting religious rights and avoiding harm to third parties, and how discrimination against religious minorities often has an underlying basis in racism.

    Click here for more on the Abercrombie decision.
    Questions about your workplace rights? Contact the Sikh Coalition's Legal Program.
  • "God Can't Breathe: Race, Religion, and Power in the #BlackLivesMatter Movement" Panel

    On June 18, 2015, Senior Religion Fellow Simran Jeet Singh spoke on a panel focused on the mass shooting in Charleston that took place the day before. The event was entitled "God Can't Breathe: Race, Religion, and Power in the #BlackLivesMatter Movement" and was sponsored by Auburn Seminary. Simran Jeet sat alongside faith and community leaders, and he spoke primarily about what religious values can contribute to the critical issues of race and discrimination in modern America.
  • JSC Leader Stands in Solidarity at Charleston Vigil

    On June 18, 2015, Junior Sikh Coalition member Pawanpreet Singh spoke on behalf of the Sikh community at a vigil organized for the church shooting at Charleston, SC. The vigil was held in Union Square Park, New York City. Pawanpreet stood in solidarity with activists, faith leaders and members of various communities showing support for Charleston. In his remarks, he recalled being in the exact same spot nearly three years ago for a vigil in remembrance of the six lives lost in the Oak Creek massacre. He connected the pain felt after the Oak Creek massacre to the pain that was felt when he heard that there were nine victims in the shooting at Charleston.
  • JSC Launches Gurdwara Tour in Tri-State Area

    The Junior Sikh Coalition (JSC) has begun conducting all-new Know Your Rights on Bullying workshops for numerous youth groups around the Tri-state area. On July 1, 2015, JSC members presented two of these workshops via Skype to Sikh youth who are part of the Guru Nanak Darbar of Albany. On July 8, 2015, JSC presented to 70 youth at Glen Cove Gurdwara. These workshops teach youth how to identify bullying, address and prevent bullying in schools and how to be proud of their Sikh identity. They also provide an opportunity for youth to share their personal experiences with bullying.

    If you would like the JSC to present in your community, please contact jr.sc@sikhcoalition.org.
  • Sikh Coalition Partners with Jakara

    On June 12-13, 2015, Sikh Coalition Community Development Fellow Jasjit Singh attended the "Above the Influence" mela and basketball tournament hosted by Jakara at Fresno State University in Fresno, CA. The event was aimed at creating a anti-substance outlook for teens and adults alike- with a special focus on discouraging underage drinking. The event was hosted by YouTube sensation "Babbu" and included special performances by magician "AmaSingh" and Bhangra performers from "GHG Sangeet and Dance Academy". The Sikh Coalition sponsored cash prizes for the winner of the three point contest and for the MVP of the under-18 bracket. A special thank you to Jakara for including us at this event
  • Sikh Coalition Welcomes 2015 Summer Interns

    The Sikh Coalition is pleased to welcome its 2015 summer interns! We are looking forward to a productive summer with this high caliber group of energetic and diverse students!

    • Development Intern: Pawanpreet Singh (Franklin & Marshall College)
    • Video and Media Intern: Josh Manley (Lewis and Clark College)
    • Media and Communications Intern: Komal Kaur (University of Connecticut)
    • Special Programs Development Intern: Rajvir Singh Kahlon (University of Pittsburgh)
    • Community Development Intern: Torendra Kalicharan (New York City College of Technology)
    • Community Development Intern: Ravinder Singh (University of Connecticut)

    The Internship Program allows students pursuing undergraduate or graduate studies to gain hands-on experience in promoting the civil and human rights of all individuals. For more information about our internship program, please click here.
  • Sign Up for the Fifth Annual 5K for the 5Ks in California

    Registration for the Fifth Annual 5K for the 5Ks is now open! Please join us on Saturday, October 3, 2015 at Baylands Park, Sunnyvale, CA and take a stride for Sikh rights! Following the walk/run, there will be music, food, a photo booth, a kids' corner and activities for all ages. So register yourself, family and friends today!
  • Apply to the Sikh Coalition Today!

    The Sikh Coalition is hiring! Are you our next Media & Communications Associate or our next Staff Attorney? The Media & Communications Associate should possess strong writing abilities, be willing to learn new skills quickly and be capable of juggling a fast-paced work environment that balances immediate reactive projects with long-term proactive ones. If you're results driven and have a background in media and communications, this job could be a good fit for you.

    The Sikh Coalition's new Staff Attorney will work as part of the Sikh Coalition's Legal Program, which takes on a limited number of cases that address hate crimes, employment discrimination, bias-based school bullying, religion-based discrimination, profiling and other forms of discrimination. If you have a strong passion for civil rights and hold both a Bachelors and Juris Doctor degree, then you should apply.

    If you are interested, please send a resume and cover letter to jobs@sikhcoalition.org. Applications will be considered on a rolling basis, so apply today!

In this Issue

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