I’ve attached the full letter. Here’s a key paragraph:
“We are concerned that this policy change could lead to disparate treament of Sikh travelers, it appears that they are being singled out for secondary screenings soley on the basis of physical manifestations of their religious beliefs. Moreover, we find it troubling that the policy was changed without any consultation with the impacted communities, and minimal information has been made public regarding the new procedures.”
The Sikh Research Institute recently held a retreat for young married couples in Toronto. Good stuff. Hopefully, in a few years, I’ll be attending a similar retreat. PDF of press release below.
A. J. Jacobs spent a year following every rule in the Bible. It’s quite an interesting story–but most interesting is that the Bible apparently says you have to keep a beard. He should have talked to some Sikhs about how to keep his beard nice and neat–from the pictures in the article he just let it grow.
Two Elderly Sikh American Men Suffer Vicious Attack in Maryland
FBI asked to probe possible hate crime; Community urged to continue reporting similar incidents
Washington D.C. – September 20, 2007: The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), the nation’s oldest and largest Sikh American civil rights organization, filed a formal complaint today with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about an alleged hate crime in Burtonsville, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, DC.
The incident occurred when two Sikh American men were walking near their home during the afternoon of Saturday, September 15, 2007. During their walk they were approached by a group of six young men.
As the group approached, one of the young men struck the first victim with a blow to the side of his face, causing him to fall to the ground and partially lose consciousness. When the other victim attempted to call the police, another young man took his cell phone and began assaulting him. The attackers continued their assault on the victims after which they fled from the scene.
As no valuables were taken from the victims, there are indications the attack could have been racially and religiously motivated.
“Such attacks create an environment of fear for not only all Maryland residents, but for all minorities across the country,” said SALDEF Associate Director Rajbir S. Datta. “Unfortunately, the incident, which took place four days after the sixth anniversary of 9/11, has become an all too common experience for Sikh Americans.”
SALDEF has filed formal complaints with the FBI and Montgomery County Police Department encouraging them to investigate the attack as a possible hate crime.
If you believe you have been the target of bias, workplace discrimination, harassment, or a hate crime please contact SALDEF immediately via email, at 877-917-4547 and also report it online.
The nation’s oldest Sikh advocacy group, SALDEF, will be hosting an awards banquet in DC. Sikhswim will be there. More info from SALDEF:
The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), the nation’s oldest and largest Sikh civil rights organization, is proud to announce the 2007 Civil Rights Awards Banquet. Join us as we recognize national and state-elected officials, youth activists, community leaders, business entrepreneurs, and political appointees who have worked diligently to support the Sikh American community.
Wanna check out some cool movies and shorts? The spinning wheel film festival is in New York this Sunday.
Check out the main page here:
And the Mayor’s proclamation here:
Check out this great letter by Congressman Honda and others. It basically responds to the concerns voiced by Sikh groups and urges the TSA to respond as well.
From Valarie Kaur:
When the calendar page turns to September, it’s difficult not to look at the 11th day. It’s a time to remember who was lost, who survived, who has been left behind. And how to live in the aftermath.
Everyone remembers September 11th. But we must also never forget September 15th.
In 2001, September 15th fell, like it does this year, on a Saturday. Balbir Singh Sodhi, wearing the turban and beard of a Sikh man, went to Costco to stock new supplies for his gas station near Phoenix, Arizona. And to look for an American flag for his store. In the check-out line, he saw a donation box for the New York relief effort and emptied his pockets of $74 - all he had remaining with him. (Flags were sold out.)
A few hours later, Mr. Sodhi was dead, killed in front of gas station by a man who called himself a patriot.
That same day, Adel Karas, an Egyptian Christian in Los Angeles and Kimberly Lowe, a Native American in Oklahoma City were killed, too.
Mr. Sodhi, Mr. Karas and Ms. Lowe were the first of at least 19 people murdered as retribution in the aftermath of 9/11. Although our country was united in grief and sorrow, fear had the power to blind Americans to the faces of their neighbors, at home and abroad.
For those of you who have been following our film Divided We Fall, you know that we feature Mr. Sodhi, his family’s story, and the story of an American city who came together in extraordinary compassion - a testament to what is possible when we share our common humanity.
On this day one year ago, we premiered the film in Phoenix, hosted by the local community, on the memorial of his death. Since we premiered, we have screened in 50 cities, opening spaces for deep dialogue in campuses and communities across the country. (We also won three awards, were featured on CNN, and have been generally too busy to send out updates on newsletters…we will recap the remarkable summer soon, we promise…)
In the year since we began our national film tour, we have been moved by the insights, stories, and memories people have shared with us. Everyone, even the very young, still feel the reverberations of September 11 th. They will never forget. We hope we are helping them to never forget Balbir Singh Sodhi, also.
We hope you are safe and healthy during these days of remembrance. Thank you for being a part of our extended DWF family. We are doing our best to make a difference.
So it’s September 15, 2007. Here’s the latest on what’s happening.
1) Sikh groups have met with the TSA, more meetings are forthcoming.
I’ve included the text of the press release from SALDEF after the jump.
A neat story in Reason magazine. It’s currently topping reddit.com. It’s really insightful and gives you a lot of perspective, even though it’s a year old.
Basically you are more likely to die by walking across the street than by being in a terror attack. There’s a lot of fear in the world, and if we’re scared, the terrorists win.