Archive for October, 2007

November 18, 2007
9:00 amto4:00 pm

sikh sportsThe Sikh Sports Association is hosting a marathon at Lake Elizabeth in Fremont, CA on November 18th. We need more events like this! I don’t know who’s racing, but I’d put my money on Dilpreet Singh, because he’s a Sikh marathon runner from California that has participated in many events. If I had known about this a little more in advance, I would have trained for it, because there’s a lot of prize money to be won: The winner of the 13 mile race gets $1000! Full details and registration available at this link.

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  • Filed under: Events, News, Sports
  • Sikh Air Travelers’ Guide

    It’s here, the jointly produced Sikh Air Travel Guide. What’s remarkable about this document is not its content, but the collaborative effort that produced it. SALDEF, SikhCoalish (just coined the term), and United Sikhs, three organizations usually vying for the community’s donation dollars by claiming to be the “oldest” or “largest” Sikh advocacy group, jointly authored the document. It’s included for your perusal below.

    Shortlist of Sikh Kirpan Cases

    In a recent press release, the Sikh Coalition enumerated the kirpan cases that it has participated in. For those who don’t know, the Kirpan is a small blade carried by Sikhs to express their duty to defend anyone weak or oppressed. No more dangerous than the multi-function swiss army knife that your IT manager carries, the Kirpan is one of the five symbols that practicing Sikhs maintain. Here’s the list of kirpan cases, followed by the original press release–another case was won in Ohio. For a law-enforcement-grade understanding of the kirpan, watch this video.

    A History Success: The Sikh Coalition Work to Protect the Right to Carry the Kirpan

    New York City v. Makhan Singh, November 8, 2001: The Queens District Attorney’s office decides to drop weapons possession charges against Makhan Singh for wearing a one foot long kirpan openly over his clothing in John F. Kennedy Airport.

    Knox County v. Charanjit Singh Dhadwal, December 6, 2001: The Knox County Prosecutor’s office drops weapons possession charges against Charanjit Singh for carrying a kirpan on his person while he was driving his truck through Tennessee.

    City of New York v. Harjit Singh and Lal Singh Jassal, January 2002: A judge in criminal court in Manhattan dismissed criminal charges against Harjit Singh and Lal Singh for wearing a kirpan after learning that the kirpan is a religious article of faith.

    Menomee Falls v. Hargian Singh, August 29, 2002: Hargian Singh was given a citation for wearing a kirpan in Menomee Falls, Wisconsin. At trial the judge dismissed the charges and apologized to Hargian Singh after learning that the kirpan is a religious article of faith.

    New York City v. Joginder Singh, October 31, 2002: A judge in criminal court in Manhattan dismissed criminal charges against Joginder Singh for wearing a kirpan after learning that the kirpan is a religious article of faith.

    Scagville v. Avtar Singh and Hardeep Singh, February 19, 2003: Police in Scagville, Maryland release Avtar Singh and Hardeep Singh who they had detained for one hour after they received a faxed letter from the Sikh Coalition explaining that their kirpan are protected religious articles.

    New York v. Kashmir Singh, April 13, 2004: A prosecutor in Manhattan drops criminal charges against a Sikh cab driver for carrying the kirpan.

    State of Montana v. Sarjeet Singh and Gurnam Singh, April 20, 2004: A prosecutor in Big Horn County, Montana drops a kirpan prosecution against two Sikh truckers for carrying kirpans on their persons while driving through Montana.

    Ohio v. Anoop Kaur Ahluwalia, May 12, 2004: Weapon possession charge dropped against a Sikh woman who entered an airport wearing her kirpan.

    City of Bellevue v. Gagandeep Singh
    September 17, 2004, criminal charges dropped for carry the kirpan by local prosecutors in Bellevue, Washington.

    State of Washington, County of Kittitas v. Gajjan Singh Bal
    July 28, 2004, criminal charges against a Sikh trucker are dropped for carrying his kirpan while working by local prosecutors in Kittitas County, Washington.

    State of California v. Kamaldeep Singh
    August 4, 2004, criminal charges against a Sikh student for carrying the kirpan while studying in the cafeteria are dropped by local prosecutors.

    State of Michigan v. Bhagwant Singh
    August 16, 2004, criminal charges against a Sikh for carrying his kirpan while waiting for his father in his car outside an airport are dropped by local prosecutors in Wayne County, Michigan.

    Oregon vs. Gurpal Singh
    October 1, 2004 - Prosecutors in Roseberg, Oregon decline to file criminal charges against Gurpal Singh (Gill), a Sikh truck driver who was issued a criminal citation for carrying his kirpan, after the Sikh Coalition intervenes.

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    November 7, 2007
    5:30 pmto8:30 pm

    Did you know that the first AA Congressman in the United States was of Sikh origin? Bet you didn’t. Most people find that extremely hard to believe, including myself. But yes, it’s true, Dalip Singh Saund served as a California Congressman from 1957-1963. SALDEF announced the unveiling of his portrait in the following press release. It’s not clear from the press release whether SALDEF pushed to have his portrait posted, or if SALDEF is just reporting this news. At any rate, mark your calendar! Full release after the jump.
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  • Filed under: Events
  • Youth Seminar at Sikh Sabha

    November 18, 2007
    2:30 pmto4:30 pm

    Sikh Sabha of New Jersey, aka the Lawrenceville Gurdwara, is hosting a youth seminar. The goal is to discuss problems faced by Sikh youth today and make folks aware of the various resources available to them. Here’s the official mail.

    Heritage Seminar at Sikh Sabha Gurudwara Sahib
    Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh!

    Preparations for the Heritage Seminar at Sikh Sabha Gurudwara are well under way.

    The speakers so far include Vishavjit Singh, creator of Sikhtoons.com. He will relate his experiences in the USA after 9/11 and show how he became a more dedicated Sikh.

    We will also have students and young adults speak about their experiences. Some parents will relate their experiences and provide very valuable lessons on how to deal with certain difficult situations faced by all young Sikhs, boys and girls.

    Representatives of the Sikh Coalition, SALDEF, United Sikhs and the World Sikh Council have been invited to attend and present their views and suggestions.

    Please make a note of the date and plan on attending this important event.

    Sikh Sabha Gurudwara
    282 Bakers Basin Road
    Lawrenceville, NJ

    November 18th 2007 (Sunday)
    2.30 pm - 4.30 pm

    For directions, visit
    www.sikhsabha.org

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  • Filed under: Events
  • BBC Production: The Sikhs

    The BBC made an two part series on the Sikh faith in 1999. I remember trying to get a DVD copy, but it wasn’t possible since it was just “made for TV.” Fortunately, you can now find the total 90 minute production on Google Video. I love technology.

    Part I:

    Part II:

    November 3, 2007
    11:00 amto5:00 pm

    The Sikh Research Institute is running a day long conference at Harvard University. Sounds like fun. Here are the details, contact Simran — ssingh [at] hds.harvard.edu for more information.

    Details:

    Come and explore your relationship as a Sikh with your Guru.
    What is Guru?
    What are the community defining historical narratives of the Incomparable Prophets?
    What is my relationship with Guru and how may I manifest that relationship.

    Date: Saturday – 3 November 2007 | 11am-5pm
    Location: Harvard University | Braun Room - Andover Hall, 45 Francis Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138
    Theme: The Guru: Connecting with the Divine Light
    Participants: College Students & Young Professionals
    Sponsor: Sikh Students at HDS
    Registration: $5 - Students | $10 - Professionals

    HRW and Ensaaf have released a report called “Protecting the Killers: A policy of impunity in Punjab, India.” That’s a pretty powerful and self-explanatory title. I’ll let you read the summary of the report below. More information can be found at Ensaaf’s web site.

    So as you know, the TSA quietly changed its screening guidelines in August and Sikhs were being searched–some were being asked to remove their turbans–without ever setting off a metal detector or wand. This was a big step backward from the consistent screening policies implemented by the TSA after 9/11. Anyway, the new policy, as jointly announced by Sikh Coalition and SALDEF (with verbatim, time-synchronized press releases to boot)
    means:

    1. Turbans will not be listed in any TSA guidance as an item that should be subject to additional screening.
    2. The TSA recognized that security screeners should not be allowed to touch a Sikh’s turban indiscriminately, and should seek explicit consent before doing so, if no alarm has been set off.
    3. By accommodating religious head coverings, the TSA has acknowledged the distinction between secular and religious garb, including the Sikh turban.
    4. Before the Thanksgiving 2007 travel season, all 43,000 TSA screeners will undergo the following mandatory training about Sikhs:
      1. View On Common Ground (see previous post) Sikh American Cultural Awareness Training for Law Enforcement.
      2. Receive copies of the Common Sikh American Head Coverings poster.

    I’ve attached both Press Releases after the jump.
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    Video: On Common Ground

    All TSA Screeners are required to watch this movie before Thanksgiving 2007. It’s been produced by the United States Department of Justice Community Relations Service, and the Sikh American Legal Defense Fund. It does a great job of explaining who Sikhs are, and what to do as a TSA screener or law-enforcement officer interacting with Sikhs. It also provides a great general overview for interested citizens.

    UPDATE: 2/6/2007 You can now watch this video at higher quality on the DOJ Site!

    Update: 11/30/2007 SALDEF reports that over 60,000 law enforcement officials have watched this video!