On Route 222 in Berks County, a Billboard Educates about Sikhism

August 23, 2006

Source: Reading Eagle

http://www.sikhnet.com/Sikhnet/news.nsf/RecentNewsHTML/0EE9E3CEA8F17049872571D3006560CF!OpenDocument

On August 23, 2006 Reading Eagle reported, "They wear beards and turbans, but they're not Muslims. And they have nothing to do with the violence being done around the world by Muslim extremists from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to the bloodshed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel and Lebanon. They are Sikhs and Lehigh County resident Shivinder Singh Athwal, who practices his faith in a Berks County temple, wants to make the distinction clear. In January he founded a group called the World Sikh Syndicate, which has begun posting billboards around Berks County to educate people about Sikh beliefs, such as peace, equality and justice. 'Non-Sikhs should be aware of who we are, what we believe in,' Athwal said. That can be a difficult task. According to Athwal, many people confuse Sikhs with Muslims or Hindus. Even the Berks County Yellow Book fosters confusion, he said, noting that the book erroneously lists the Bethel Township temple he attends the Guru Nanak Sikh Society of Northeast Pennsylvania as a mosque. Athwal moved to Breinigsville on Sept. 1, 2001. After the terrorist attacks 10 days later, he couldn't go shopping without being harassed, he said. 'I would go to the mall and people would shout, "Osama, go to hell,"' he said. Athwal hopes there won't be another attack in the U.S. by Muslim extremists. But if there is, he doesn't want Sikhs including the 100 families who attend the Bethel temple to be the targets of harassment."