Sikhism

Sikh Americans push for greater visibility, awareness against years of hate crimes, misunderstanding

October 11, 2021

After Sept. 11, Vishavjit Singh felt uneasy and unsafe in New York City. His turban and beard, articles of his Sikh faith, drew angry glares from his coworkers almost immediately after the attacks. With the understanding of his boss, he was able to leave Westchester county, where he worked as a software engineer at a telecommunications company, to go back home to Connecticut, where he would stay for a few weeks. In his mind, by then, things would have cooled down and he would no longer be at risk because of his appearance.

“When I went back to work, people in passing cars on...

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Sailors, Marines seek religious accommodation to wear beards

October 1, 2021

Shave or be Shaved. Aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, sailor Edmund Di Liscia faced a stark choice. According to his lawyers, he was told to either shave his beard voluntarily or be held down by his bunk mate and forcibly shaved. For Di Liscia, a practicing Hasidic Jew who had not shaved for more than two years, it was a choice between his loyalty to the U.S. Navy and his religious faith.

Di Liscia is one of several sailors and marines who are seeking religious accommodation to wear beards while in uniform.  

Earlier this year, Di Liscia, along with three...

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Search for man caught on camera ransacking Sikh house of worship

September 18, 2021

The search is on for a man caught on camera ransacking a Sikh house of worship in Federal Way.

Surveillance video KIRO 7 received shows a man smashing through a glass door to gain entry into the Khalsa Gurmat Center on Friday.

According to a post from the worship center, the main hall and prayer area was vandalized, including windows and electronic control panels. Several computers and monitors were reportedly stolen too.

Source:...

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20 Years Ago: Remembering Sikh Temple Vandalism After 9/11

September 8, 2021

The impact of 9/11 was felt across every cross-section of America, including in the Muslim and Sikh communities, which faced backlash following the attacks.

Days before the Sikh Temple of Sacramento was attacked in 2001, West Sacramento police came to warn them of potential danger.

“Police informed us be fearful something might happen,” explained Balbir Singh Dhillon, President of the Sikh Temple of Sacramento. 

Source:...

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Young Sikhs still struggle with post-Sept.11 discrimination

September 7, 2021

Sikh entrepreneur Balbir Singh Sodhi was killed at his Arizona gas station four days after the Sept. 11 attacks by a man who declared he was “going to go out and shoot some towel-heads” and mistook him for an Arab Muslim.

Young Sikh Americans still struggle a generation later with the discrimination that 9/11 unleashed against their elders and them, ranging from school bullying to racial profiling to hate crimes — especially against males, who typically wear beards and turbans to demonstrate their faith.

As the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11 nears, those younger Sikhs...

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Solidarity with Sikhs: De Blasio joins turban tying ceremony in Queens

August 29, 2021

Mayor Bill de Blasio had a turban tied for solidarity on Sunday.

The atmosphere outside the Gurdwara, the Sikh Cultural Society Inc. in Richmond Hill, Queens was one of unbridled excitement on Sunday, Aug. 29. Those attending the house of worship that afternoon eagerly awaited a ceremony that has not been performed in 30 years.

David Dinkins was the last New York City mayor to have had a turban fastened to his head all the way back in 1992. According to Harpreet Singh Toor, chairman of public policy and external affairs for the Sikh Cultural Society, the process...

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US Sikhs seek White House intervention in evacuation of Afghanistan Sikhs, Hindus

August 26, 2021

US Sikhs have met with White House representative over the issue of evacuation of Afghanistan Sikhs and Hindus.

Dr Rajwant Singh, co-founder of the National Sikh Campaign (NSC) and chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, along with Gurwin Singh Ahuja, co-founder of the NSC, apprised key White House officials of the Sikh community’s concerns about the fallout of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“We conveyed that the Sikh community will be ready to assist the Biden administration if the Sikhs and Hindus are evacuated to the US. We are thankful to...

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'Arthur,' the iconic kids' show, is getting a Sikh character

August 24, 2021

Arthur, the bespectacled aardvark beloved by generations of viewers, is finally about to start the fourth grade. And in the new school year, he and his pals will befriend some new classmates -- including a Sikh boy named Samir.

The character of Samir will make his debut in "Arthur's First Day," an upcoming special scheduled to premiere on PBS on September 6...

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President Biden, Governor Evers recognize ninth anniversary of shooting at Oak Creek Sikh temple

August 5, 2021

OAK CREEK, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Nine years ago on this day, August 5, 2012, a gunman walked into the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin and opened fire, killing six people.

The shooter, identified as a white supremacist from Cudahy, walked into the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin and began a rampage which killed six people, wounded many and terrorized an entire community before turning the gun on himself.

President Biden released a remembrance statement in a tweet early Thursday morning, calling for Americans to stand up against hate and bigotry, while standing for the freedom of...

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Sikh temple under construction vandalized in New Hyde Park

August 5, 2021

(RNS) — A Nassau County Sikh gurdwara under construction in New Hyde Park was vandalized with graffiti declaring “Trump 2024 Make America Great Again!,” according to the Sikh Coalition and law enforcement.

The graffiti was discovered Tuesday (Aug. 3) afternoon at Darbar Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji New York and was reported to the Nassau County Police Department, said Rajanpreet Kaur, a spokesperson for the Sikh Coalition. Since then, the gurdwara retained the Sikh Coalition to assist in the case.

The graffiti also included the phrases “I love Jesus! Only God!” and “...

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Sikh American soldiers continue to campaign for right to wear beard, turban

July 29, 2021

(RNS) — Gurpreet Singh died with his boots on for a Marine Corps that wouldn’t let him wear a turban in accommodation of his Sikh faith. Singh was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2011, one of the 2,312 American military personnel who have perished in that conflict.

On Thursday (July 29), a solemn memorial ceremony in Arlington National Cemetery recognized Cpl. Singh, who, after a long process, has become the second Sikh soldier buried in that hallowed ground — a khanda sword symbol etched on his tombstone.

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Sikhs, finding religious freedom on the road, take outsize role in American trucking

July 16, 2021

(RNS) — More and more of America’s truck drivers are wearing turbans, as a growing community of Punjabi-born drivers, the majority of whom are Sikhs, play an increasingly outsize role in one of America’s fastest-growing industries. 

The trucking industry has attracted generations of Americans by offering good salaries for work that allows drivers to essentially be their own bosses. That workplace freedom has drawn many Sikhs in the Sikh American community to pursue trucking. Beginning in the early 1990s and picking up steam after 2009, Sikhs have become an important part...

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Denominations have begun creating special prayers for fatal mass shootings

July 16, 2021

When there are mass shootings, like this week in Chicago, or the previous week in Toledo — or, really, any week in this country — Episcopal Bishop Scott Hayashi thinks of that split second in a Tacoma record store decades ago. The beat when he turned toward a man with a gun to ask, “What did you say?” and saw his own 19-year-old face in the man’s mirrored shades before his body hit the floor.

Hayashi spent two months in the ICU and almost died after being shot in the stomach during the robbery. He now advocates with a group of other U.S. Episcopal bishops on the issue of gun...

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‘I Can’t See Myself Doing Anything Else’

July 11, 2021

KERMAN, Calif. — Simranjit Singh is a second-generation American farmer, but his agricultural roots go back 900 years.

Before his father moved to California from India in 1991, before India gained independence from Britain in 1947, before his Sikh culture took root in 1469, the civilizations of Northern India worked various agricultural lands, and Mr. Singh, 28, is part that unbroken lineage.

On a secluded 100-acre farm in the San Joaquin Valley of California, he and his father tend the family’s raisin and almond orchards, determined to keep their heritage vital....

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First Sikh in N.J. fire department serves for his religion and as a source of inspiration

June 1, 2021

Some people decide to join a volunteer fire company to learn a new trade, fill spare time in their days, or form bonds with a new pack of people.

For Khushwant S. Pall, becoming a first responder is a reflection of his own religion.

“The reason why we wear our turbans is if anyone is ever in need of anything, we’re always there to render aid. We can easily spot it ... and I wanted to bring that towards an organization in my community that gives back,” Pall said. “It’s an obligation that we have: to help others.”

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