Archive for January, 2008

Valarie Kaur Endorses Obama

Valarie Kaur has endorsed Barack Obama for President, and she encourages all Sikhs to do the same. Why? See below. Since this is the season of political excitement, I would like to see cases for the other candidates as well. If you have one, please send it my way. ;) I already voted for Obama by absentee ballot in the Feb 5 NJ primary. (Thanks Nitasha for sending this in.)

Why I Support Obama as a Sikh American
By Valarie Kaur

As a Sikh American whose family settled in America 100 years ago, this election is different than any other my family has seen. This is the first election where I believe the future of my community and country rests on our support of a single presidential candidate: Barack Obama.

Sikhs will have a choice on February 5th: we can stick to politics-as-usual, or we can join a movement in this country. A movement where people divided by race, religion, and politics are finding the courage to recognize themselves in one another and come together in a common cause. A movement that would end the old politics, in which Sikhs are forever minorities asking to be accommodated, and usher in a new politics of unity that ties Sikhs to all Americans in the same struggle for freedom.

Obama alone represents this movement. Its momentum is real. We are already part of it. I have witnessed it.

Read the rest at Obama’s Website

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  • Filed under: News
  • Turban Attack in Hoboken

    Surprising stuff:

    Woman charged with trying to rip turban off Sikh man’s head

    A woman was arrested early this morning and charged with trying to rip the turban off a Sikh man’s head in a Washington Street bar, police said.

    “I went to the bar to place an order, and I realized that someone was trying to get my turban off my head,” said 38-year-old Hansdip Singh Bindra, of Union City, who was at Madison Bar and Grill with a colleague just after midnight. “You’re out for an evening with colleagues and this is the last thing you’d expect.”

    Also see: Turban Makes News in Hoboken, and a press release by the Sikh Coalition.

    Having grown up in New Jersey I’ve never experienced anything like this, but I’m glad Hansdip called the police, who were quick to respond and did take appropriate action.

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  • Filed under: Hate Crimes, News
  • Jan 28, 2008 - New Delhi: The protests by Sikh groups on Friday prompted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take up the issue of French ban on turbans with visiting President Nicholas Sarkozy.

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today took up with French President Nicolas Sarkozy the issue of ban on turban in France.

    Dr Singh raised the issue during his talks with Sarkozy who responded by saying that there is no ban on wearing of turban in France though use of religious symbols in certain situations was prohibited, sources said. The French government had said in 2004 that Sikh students could not wear turbans to schools as turbans were religious symbols.

    Full Sikhnet Story

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  • Filed under: News
  • sonny-caberwal-kenneth-cole.jpg
    The picture says it all. An excerpt from Amandeep Singh of the Sikh Coalition:

    This world-wide ad campaign is for Kenneth Cole’s 20th anniversary, and the focus is on the fact that “we all walk in different shoes.” Kenneth Cole has a long history of supporting socially conscious initiatives, including the AWEARNESS campaign focused on AIDS and homelessness. Along with Sonny [Singh], the other “models” were selected for the adversity that they face in their day to day life (e.g., two Muslim sisters who escaped Taliban Afghanistan, a blond model who is HIV-positive, etc.). They will be launching a website in the coming weeks that features a video interview with each model, along with their story. This will obviously bring tremendous visibility to our community and hopefully move us closer to breaking the stereotypes we work so hard every day to counter. The attached pictures are of a 20-foot board outside the Kenneth Cole store in Rockefeller Center (49th and 5th). Similar posters and billboards should be popping up in the coming months. Pretty damn cool!

    It’s also worth noting that Sonny is not a model by profession, but an attorney and entrepreneur. We’ll be looking forward to the website and congrats again to Sonny and Kenneth Cole for proving, once again, that Sikhs are stylin’ cool.

    French President Nicholas Sarkozy is visiting India starting today, and he’ll be meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. I’m sure they’ll have a lot to talk about. But a big elephant lurks in the room: Manmohan Singh would not be allowed to attend public school in Sarkozy’s France. Isn’t that just a little awkward/funny? United Sikhs and other groups hope Manmohan Singh brings this up. It would really be a showing of character if Manmohan Singh can stand up for himself and immutable identity.

    Sikhs Seek Assurance from Indian PM that he would Raise Turban Issue with French President
    Sikhs Will Persist to Keep The French Turban Ban Issue Alive Until it is Resolved

    New Delhi, 25th January 2008 –UNITED SIKHS, a United Nations affiliated international advocacy NGO and other Sikh organizations request the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh to publicly state if he will discuss the Sikh Turban issue in France with French President Nicholas Sarkozy during the latter’s visit to India, which starts today.

    In the last week, UNITED SIKHS and Sikhs organizations globally have requested a meeting with Dr. Manmohan Singh to request that he raise the French ban on the Sikh Turban issue with Mr Sarkozy. We have also written to the Chairperson of the UPA, Sonia Gandhi and the Indian External Affairs Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, seeking an assurance that the issue will be on the top of Dr. Manmohan Singh’s agenda with Mr Sarkozy.

    “No Sikh organization has been granted a meeting with Dr. Manmohan Singh or the External Affairs Minister, but we will persist in our request for a meeting so that we are able to effectively apprise him of the issues,” said Mejindarpal Kaur, UNITED SIKHS director who is leading the legal challenge to the French ban on the Sikh Turban in schools and on ID document photos.

    (more…)

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  • Filed under: News
  • Exciting news as Parminder Singh was one of my first mentors when I worked at MSFT. He’s a Gursikh guy who’s a role model for all aspiring Sikhs. He gets a special mention here on Sikh Swim because he used to work as a lifeguard. Go Parminder Singh!

    Full Press Release
    Microsoft Canada Development Centre Appoints Parminder Singh as Managing Director
    Seasoned veteran brings more than 22 years experience in building, operating and managing international businesses

    Richmond, BC - Friday, November 9, 2007 - Microsoft Corp. today announced the appointment of Parminder Singh to the role of Managing Director of the new Microsoft Canada Development Centre (MCDC) in Richmond, BC. Mr. Singh brings more than 22 years of professional experience in building, operating and managing international businesses around the world.

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  • Filed under: News
  • An Appeal from Dya Singh

    Dya Singh, world renowned Sikh musician, has issued the following appeal. You can contact him at dyasingh at gmail dot com. Basically, someone is arguing in an Australian court that Sikh children should not keep their hair. *update* All Sikh organizations are encouraged to support the cause of Sikh children keeping their hair.

    Dear fellow ‘Sikhs’,

    My daughter Jamel is going through a ‘child custody’ hearing in February of which the central point of contention is the question of ‘hair’. Jamel has made every effort to retain the hair of the children whilst her ex-husband, Harbalvinder Dhillon (and family) have made every effort to denigrate her efforts and also in the process, keep trimming the children’s hair, so that, the making of the top knot (for her son) becomes ever so frustrating as he (the father) does not allow the hair to grow to a length to facilitate the making of a top-knot as is done with boys.

    Interim orders of the court have ordered Harbalvinder, the father not to cut the hair of the children. In spite of such orders, he continues to do so.

    Now it is the central issue in the next hearing for the custody of the children and Harbalvinder is making a concerted effort in obtaining the legal right to cut his son’s hair immediately.

    Harbalvinder Dhillon (and his family) claims in his affidavit that in accordance with today’s trends,in the interest of modernisation and to ensure that the children, especially the boy, Saffal does not develop an inferiority complex, it is imperative that their hair should be cut so that they do not feel out of place in today’s modern society, and in fact better fit in.

    I request for letters of support from Sikh bodies to refute this claim by him. I especially request letters to support the retention of hair for Sikh children up till at least they are of age when they can make their own decisions regarding their hair. That should be the status quo. It will be a slap in the face of all Sikh bodies if the father and his family, in this case, are allowed to cut his children’s hair against the mother’s wishes and if I may say so, against the wishes of the whole Sikh community.

    Jamel has made every effort to encourage the keeping of hair and in fact little Saffal is proud of his unshorn hair. Jamel makes certain that both children regularly attend Sikh youth camps, seminars and other gatherings with other Sikh children with unshorn hair. This, I am sure will be borne out by affidavits from such camps in Sydney and Melbourne. Such camps go on regularly in Sydney, Melbourne and in other cities and also overseas.

    I request such letters especially from Sikh Council of Australia; United Sikhs; The Gurdwara Perbhandhak Committee of Gurdwara Sahib Blackburn, Victoria; The Craigieburn Gurdwara Sahib, Sikh Youth Camps, Australia; Sikh Naujawans Victoria and any other body who feels it can lend its support in this case.

    I also take this opportunity to urge Sikhs not to support bodies which claim to be ‘Sikh’ but actually are doing more harm to Sikhi than good by encouraging its members and other attendees to cut their hair, partake liberally of alcoholic drinks and providing Sikh youth with a platform to, in fact, drift further away from the tenets of our faith. There are such bodies in Melbourne of which Harbalvinder Dhillon, the father of the children, is a product.

    sincerely,

    Dya Singh

    PS - please feel free to distribute this email as far and wide as you like. Please feel free to email or phone me to discuss specifics of the case.

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  • Filed under: News
  • United Sikhs petitioning France

    United Sikhs, the most prominent international Sikh group fighting for the rights of Sikhs in France, has issued an appeal. Write to your embassy.

    At issue is the sad fact that Sikhs like myself cannot attend public school in France. Yes, it sounds incomprehensible, but it’s true. In a progressive world that has taken many steps in favor of human rights and equality over the last several decades (see the US civil rights movement, for example), why do they want to exclude Sikhs and others from attending public school? What a shame. I have been to France on vacation, and I will say that I met many friendly people there. Let’s hope these nice people will have some sense and fix their laws which ultimately divide instead of unite. This is hatred, racism, and intolerance at a rather prominent level (as much as we Americans like to point out how backward and lame France is, we should probably help them in this case since the French are oppressing their own citizens by denying them an education.)

    To view the memorandum, please click
    http://unitedsikhs.org/memo-to-french-embassy/

    Instructions to use the draft memorandum:

    * Copy the drafted memorandum onto your organizations letterhead and print it.
    * Request the authorized signing authority of your organization to sign the memorandum.
    * Make an appointment to give the memorandum personally to the French Consular or Ambassador in your country.
    OR
    Fax or email the signed memorandum to your local French Consulate in your city/country. To find the fax number or email address of your Consulate/Embassy, click on http://www.french-in-france.biz/ingles/fr_embassies_a.html .
    * Email a copy of the sent memorandum to UNITED SIKHS at rtt@unitedsikhs.org , or send it as a fax to 001-810-885-4264.
    * [IF YOU HAVE ANY PROBLEMS EXECUTING THE ABOVE AND NEED ANY ASSISTANCE, CALL 001-646-315-3909 OR WRITE TO rtt@unitedsikhs.org ]

    Contest Winner: Kanwalroop Singh

    So we received a grand total of nine entries for the contest, and we chose a random winner. The entries were great, and they were all helpful. I’ll be incorporating the ideas into the site, starting now. ;) See below for more info.

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  • Filed under: News
  • Sikh Woman Breaks with Tradition…

    Preeti Kaur forwarded this Fresno Bee article and her well-written response, which was also published.

    This is the article in reference: http://www.fresnobee.com/263/story/302894.html

    And this is my letter to the editor: http://www.fresnobee.com/277/story/318009.html

    preeti

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  • Filed under: News