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The Sikh Coalition Avaaz
June 11, 2016
  • 40 Civil Rights Groups Rally To Support Sikh Justice

    On Wednesday, June 1, 2016, the Sikh Coalition joined a coalition of 40 civil rights organizations to demand accountability in a troubling case of profiling and discrimination in Texas. In February, two brown-skinned men -- Mr. Daljeet Singh and Mr. Mohammed Chotri, asylum applicants from India and Pakistan respectively – were falsely accused of terrorism, harshly interrogated and arrested at gunpoint by authorities in Potter County, Texas.

    To read the coverage on NBC News, click here.

    More than one month after the Sikh Coalition filed a complaint demanding an investigation into the profiling of the passengers, authorities failed to address the case. We sent another letter to Potter County authorities to request an assessment of training procedures and response protocols, and to ensure others will not be subjected to profiling and harsh treatment.
  • Remembering Assault on Sikhs in 1984

    This June, we join Sikhs worldwide in remembering the Indian Army’s assault on Darbar Sahib (popularly known as the Golden Temple) and dozens of other gurdwaras throughout Punjab in 1984. Code-named Operation Bluestar, the assault claimed the lives of thousands of innocent Sikhs.

    We worked with one survivor, Sawinder Singh, to publish his first-hand account of the Darbar Sahib assault. School was let out early that day, and ten-year-old Sawinder biked home, past bodies lying in pools of blood.

    "When I made it home, my mother was crying because she was so relieved to see me, knowing not all mothers were so lucky," he said. "She hid me under a bed, where I heard gunshots throughout the day."

    Born in Amritsar and brought up within the Darbar Sahib complex, Sawinder Singh is a former Hazori Raagi of Darbar Sahib and founded the Sri Harmandir Sahib Academy.

    Read his full account here.
  • Progress to Protect Sikh History & Students in CA

    After two years of advocating for the preservation of Sikh history in the California curriculum framework, in May the California Department of Education (CDE) tentatively approved submissions that will successfully preserve Sikh history.

    “This decision is so important to Sikhs nationwide because California will set a precedent for future decisions that will be made by other states across the nation,” said the Sikh Coalition’s California Community Development Manager, Harjit Kaur.

    While the formal vote to approve these submissions is scheduled to happen sometime before the end of 2016, the CDE unanimously agreed with the Sikh Coalition and other community partners that Sikh contributions to California history are uniquely valuable and that Sikhism absolutely deserves its own individual place as a faith, tradition and community.

    To read more about the progress to protect Sikh history in California, click here.
  • Inaugural SoCal Bowl-a-thon Raises $43,000!

    On May 22, 2016, the Sikh Coalition brought the much loved Bowl-a-thon to Southern California for the first time. Over 200 sangat members, from grandparents to toddlers, enjoyed a fun-filled evening "Bowling a Strike for Sikh rights" and raised over $43,000! Special shoutout to top fundraising team Super Sikhs and top fundraiser Daljeet Singh.

    A big thank you to our sponsors: Chugh Firm, CPSI Consulting and Sikh Lens. Also this event would not have been possible without our volunteer committee Channpal SIngh, Bhajneet Singh, Daljeet Singh, Ekta Saini and Jaspreet Singh.

    Click here to see photos from the event.
  • Updates on Sikhs in the U.S. Military

    In May, three soldiers shipped to basic combat training after receiving religious accommodations to serve with their Sikh articles of faith intact. After we pursued legal action against the United States Department of Defense, the three were granted long term religious accommodations on April 8, 2016.

    Building off this recent momentum, the Truman National Security Project, a nationwide association of veterans, policy experts, and others, has created a change.org petition to remove restrictions for Sikhs wishing to serve in the U.S. military. Please view, share and sign the petition, addressed to the U.S. Secretary of Defense.

    The Sikh Coalition also worked with Ashima Duggal -- a lawyer, filmmaker and Sikh Coalition advocate -- to place an op-ed in NBC News entitled, “Religious Tolerance Should Be Celebrated By Our Military This Memorial Day.” This adds another voice to the growing chorus calling for policy change by our nation’s largest employer. #LetSikhsServe
  • Councilman Called Terrorist, Responds Gracefully

    Ravinder S. Bhalla, a Sikh American councilman in Hoboken, New Jersey, was called a “terrorist” on Twitter. The councilman responded by using the bigotry as an opportunity to educate the public about Sikhism and the Sikh American community.

    The Sikh Coalition is proud to work with Mr. Bhalla to amplify his voice in response to bigotry aimed at him. We worked with Mr. Bhalla to place an op-ed in a local news outlet, which examines issues of discrimination and racism affecting Sikhs and other minorities in America.

    “We remain at our very best as a nation when we stand together and celebrate the diversity that makes Hoboken and the rest of the United States great,” Mr. Bhalla says in the op-ed. “We are a nation of immigrants, where each new wave has strengthened and reinvigorated our nation.”
  • Sikh Coalition Co-Founder Speaks at Harvard

    Sikh Coalition co-founder, Harpreet Singh, spoke at the Harvard University Baccalaureate Service for 2016 graduates on May 24, 2016. His words, grounded in the Sikh tradition, were delivered through his appointed role as Sikh chaplain at Harvard.

    Harpreet has dedicated the past 15 years to educating the public on Sikhism inside and outside the classroom. He left his career on Wall Street to help found the Sikh Coalition in the wake of hate crimes against Sikh Americans after the September 11, 2001 attacks.  He teaches religion courses at Harvard and serves on the board of trustees at the Sikh Coalition.
  • Artist Honors Sikh Hero with Mural

    Artist Brett Crawford honored Sikh bus driver Balwinder Jit Singh in May by creating a floor-to-ceiling mural in Santa Monica, CA. It reads, "His name is Balwinder. With the remarkable act of keeping his foot on the brake, he became an American hero."

    Last year, our client, Balwinder Jit Singh, a Sikh bus operator for the Los Angeles County MTA, was brutally attacked by a bus passenger who called him “terrorist“ and “suicide bomber.” Throughout the attack, Mr. Singh kept his foot on the brake, ensuring the safety of passengers and pedestrians. After community advocacy work, hate crime charges were brought against the attacker. To read more about Mr. Singh’s story, click here.
  • Major Progress in Sikh Coalition Sponsored CA Anti-Bullying Bill

    The Sikh Coalition co-sponsored an anti-bullying bill in California, which unanimously passed out of the California State Assembly on May 27, 2016.

    Click here to read the

    The bill, AB 2845, ensures that school employees will be provided the necessary resources to support students who face school bullying and discrimination. The bill will move to the Senate where it will be heard by the Senate Education Committee in the coming weeks.
  • Fresno Man Stands Trial in Hate Crime Attack on Elderly Sikh

    In December, two young men brutally assaulted an elderly Sikh man, and one attacker is currently on trial. Recent witness testimony presents strong evidence in support of a hate crime conviction of the person who assaulted the Sikh, Mr. Amrik Singh Bal. We urge for justice on behalf of Mr. Bal.

    In addition to supporting targeted Sikhs, we stand in ‪‎solidarity‬ with all other communities in America who experience hateful backlash.

    If you experience ANY kind of backlash, please report the case to us by using our new Report Hate resource (www.ReportHate.org) or request legal assistance through our online form (http://www.sikhcoalition.org/request-legal-assistance). Every incident should be reported and data makes a big difference as we work with government agencies across the country to keep Sikhs safe.
  • Sikh Coalition Participates in U.S. Department of Justice Roundtables

    Throughout the spring, the U.S. Department of Justice hosted roundtables across the country to discuss major civil rights issues, including hate violence, bullying and employment discrimination. The Sikh Coalition attended four of these roundtables, in Newark, New Jersey; Detroit, Michigan; Stanford, California; and Washington, D.C. In connection with these roundtables, the Department of Justice will promulgate new policy proposals intended to better protect the civil rights of ethnic and religious minorities, including Sikh Americans.
  • Seva with the Sikh Coalition for Syrian Refugees

    On Sunday, June 26, 2016, the Sikh Coalition will be joining the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees to support a community service project that will impact thousands. We will be joining volunteers of all faiths and ages in New York City to assemble more than 8,000 hygiene kits for distribution to Syrian refugees. Volunteers will also assemble kits designed to meet the specific needs of women, an especially vulnerable population.

    The Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees is a faith-based coalition of over 60 organizations that has worked to respond to the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis. As millions have fled Syria in the search for safety, families have been displaced throughout the world.

    The event will take place at Lexington Avenue Armory, 68 Lexington Ave in New York City. If you live nearby, please sign up here to join us, and direct any questions to communications@sikhcoalition.org.
  • Sikh Coalition Supports New Documentary: “They Called Me Osama”

    Sikh filmmaker, Maneetpaul Singh launched a new documentary on Sikhi entitled "They Called Me Osama." The film tells the stories of Sikh experiences in modern America, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. View the film here.

    The Sikh Coalition supported with expertise, guidance and resources, and Senior Religion Fellow, Simran Jeet Singh served as an advisor for the project. Mr. Singh’s film has already been featured in news outlets such as NBC News and The Huffington Post.
  • Sikh Corporal featured by the U.S. Army Organization

    Corporal Simran Preet Singh Lamba was featured by the Association of the United States Army as they honored Asian American military service. Sikh Coalition Law & Policy Director, Arjun Singh attended a reception on May 24, 2016 honoring the contributions of Corporal Lamba and other Asian American soldiers.

    Since the military placed the ban on Sikh service 35 years ago, we are proud to represent the four Sikh American soldiers who have received a religious accommodation and served in active duty with their religious articles of faith intact. We look forward to our three recently accommodated clients joining Corporal Lamba, Major Kamal Singh Kalsi, Major Tejdeep Singh Rattan and Captain Simratpal Singh as we continue working to end the ban that prohibits all Sikhs from serving freely in the U.S. military. ‪
  • Law & Policy Director Presents at U.S. State Department

    Sikh Coalition Law & Policy Director, Arjun Singh delivered a presentation at the Foreign Service Institute at the U.S. State Department on May 24, 2016. Attendees included U.S. foreign service officers from across the world, including the Vatican, Nigeria, Canada and Colombia. Arjun discussed the Sikh articles of faith, the origins of the Sikh Coalition and challenges facing members of the Sikh diaspora.
  • Junior Sikh Coalition Member Hosts Career Fair

    On June 4, 2016, Ramanjot Kaur of the Junior Sikh Coalition hosted a career fair at the Sikh Cultural Society Gurdwara in Richmond Hill, New York. Ramanjot organized an enriching event of diverse Sikh professionals who explained their professional and personal journeys to the local youth.

    "This experience was phenomenal. My friends and I rarely had role models to look up to growing up,” said Ramanjot Kaur. “As I prepare to enter the adult world and begin college, I am thankful that I can look back to meeting these professionals and realizing that everyone has a unique path that they themselves must create and follow. I am inspired to pursue a career that genuinely fulfills me.”
  • Sikh Coalition Joins Los Angeles Officials for National Day of Prayer

    On Thursday, May 5, 2016, the Sikh Coalition was honored to join the Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, for the National Day of Prayer Breakfast at the Mayor's official residence in Los Angeles. The interfaith event was attended by representatives from many religious traditions to pray for the city and to answer the call to address homelessness.

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