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The Sikh Coalition Avaaz
April 5, 2011
  • Irony of Ironies: "How We Lobbied for Civil Rights … and Got Profiled by Capitol Hill Police"

    On April 4, 2011, Gurwinder Singh, a Sikh youth activist, spoke about his experiences with school bullying on Capitol Hill. Earlier that morning,  Gurwinder, Rajdeep Singh (Director of Law and Policy at the Sikh Coalition), and Sandeep Kaur (Staff Attorney at the Sikh Coalition) were aggressively questioned by U.S. Capitol Hill Police because a civilian had seen "two men of Middle Eastern appearance acting suspiciously."  Read a full narrative on the Sikh Coalition's blog.
  • Senator Durbin Recognizes Sikh Coalition at Hearing; Coalition Submits Statement for Congressional Record

    On March 29, 2011, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights held a hearing titled Protecting the Civil Rights of American Muslims.  The Sikh Coalition submitted a statement for the hearing record as well.

    Sikh civil rights issues figured prominently in the discussions. United States Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, Thomas E. Perez, to his credit referenced the Muslim, Arab, South Asian, and Sikh American experience during his testimony.  The Sikh Coalition was also explicitly acknowledged by Senator Dick Durbin, who chairs the Subcommittee.  (Click here to watch the hearing in its entirety.)

    These efforts are part of the Coalition’s ongoing drive to promote Sikh American civil rights and awareness in the U.S. Congress.  In January, four members of Congress wrote a letter, initiated by the Sikh Coalition, to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to demand clarity about airport screening policies.  The Sikh Coalition highlighted this issue in a February letter to the House Transportation Subcommittee and again in March for the Senate Judiciary Committee

    In early March, the Sikh Coalition initiated and drafted a collaborative letter from Sikh advocacy organizations, including SALDEF and UNITED SIKHS, in response to the controversial Peter King hearings.

  • Sikh Advocate Academy: New Guest Speakers

    The Sikh Coalition will hold its inaugural Sikh Advocate Academy  in Washington, DC during the week of June 13, 2011.  Successful applicants will learn the practical aspects of human rights advocacy—including government engagement, media engagement, and community engagement—and pledge to become social justice leaders in their local communities.  Confirmed guest speakers include Mr. Eric Treene, Special Counsel for Religious Discrimination for the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, and Mr. Gene Kim, Executive Director for the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.  The Sikh Coalition is reviewing applications on a rolling basis, and so we encourage interested individuals to apply today!
  • Fighting Bullying in the Bay Area

    The Coalition and several Bay Area community members met with the Superintendent of the Fremont School District to discuss anti-Sikh bullying in February. The Coalition's recently released Bay Area Civil Rights Report identified Fremont as the school district with the highest rates of bullying against our children in that area. The Coalition is currently discussing policy and curriculum changes with the Fremont School District to address this epidemic.
  • Standing in Solidarity with Religious Minorities; Affirming Our Values as Sikhs

    The Committee on Homeland Security in the U.S. House of Representatives recently began investigative hearings on domestic radicalization. The hearings singled out American Muslims as the sole subject of Congressional scrutiny. While we recognize the vital necessity of efforts to counter violent extremism in America, the Sikh Coalition strongly believes these hearings to be unfair and dangerous.

    Director of Law & Policy weighs in on the hearings at The Washington Post. To read more, click here.
  • Respect For All Week

    In February, the Coalition, along with the Department of Education, celebrated Respect For All Week (February 14 - 18) in New York City’s public schools.  During this week, schools were encouraged to hold awareness-raising programs to combat bullying based on race, religion, gender and more.  The Sikh Coalition organized Sikh awareness presentations in several schools, and sent lesson plans and other teaching resources about Sikhs to all New York City principals. We also reached out to the local Sikh sangat to inform them about Respect For All Week and to encourage them to contact the Coalition if they would like presentations on Sikhism given in their children’s schools.
  • Facing History and Ourselves Conference

    The Coalition participated in a series of workshops focused on addressing religious diversity and tolerance in history and the present. The workshops were lead by Facing History and Ourselves, the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding and the New York Public Library.  They featured an educator session on religious freedom, using examples from America's history and a panel discussion, as well as guidelines on how to address current issues of religion and religious freedom in the classroom.  The Coalition commends both Facing History and Ourselves and the Tanenbaum Center for encouraging teachers to discuss issues of religious freedom, and for promoting the study of and respect for all religions in schools.
  • Coalition Partners with Community Foundation for National Strategic Plan

    In February, we launched our strategic planning process with a meeting of board, staff and funders in the Bay Area. The meeting was held at the offices of one of the Coalition's largest institutional supporters, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. SVCF is the second largest community foundation in the nation, with more than 1,500 philanthropic funds and $1.7 billion in assets under management. Last year, the Coalition received a three-year Community Leadership Project grant from SVCF. Its goal is to enhance our capacity and help us create a strategic plan that will determine the future direction of our work. The Community Foundation has connected us with a consulting company, as well as resources and project support for this endeavor.

    We would like to recognize and thank the Silicon Valley Community Foundation for its vision and determined support of small community-based groups like ours. Their support is strengthening the Sikh community nationwide.

  • Sikh Leaders Meet for World Sikh Council Convening

    The World Sikh Council recently held a convening of Sikh leaders and organizations from across North America. Board of Trustees member Jasjit Singh presented on behalf of the Sikh Coalition.
    Click to watch!

  • Donating to Japan via Direct Relief International

    Following the March 10th earthquake and tsunami, Japan and its citizens need our help more than ever. If you would like to make a donation, we recommend doing so through our friends at Direct Relief International. 100% of all donations they receive for this cause will go directly toward relief efforts in Japan.

    Donate to Japan!

In this Issue

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