The Sikh Coalition coordinated a march for Sikh children in response to the recent wave of attacks on Sikh kids in New York area schools. Here are some photos and news reports from the event.
Fox Video: Sikhs Protest in Queens
New York Times: Queens Sikhs March Against Bias Crimes
Sikh Pulse: United Front
The Sikh Coalition reports that Gurprit Kaur is the latest victim of school hatred — her hair was clipped by another student. The group has organized a March on June 30 to demand rights for students in New York. Unfortunately I’ll be out of town.
Excerpt from the press release:
On Monday, June 9, 2008 at approximately 11:00 am while in English class, Gurprit’s classmate told her that a portion of her braided hair had been cut off. Gurprit did not notice while her hair was being cut behind her back. Given the deep spiritual significance of her hair, Gurprit was extremely upset. She immediately conveyed her dismay to teachers.
Gurprit’s school conducted an investigation and within hours advised her that a classmate (a juvenile who shall remain nameless) had admitted to cutting her hair during a class they share together and where they sit next to each other. The school returned Gurprit’s hair to her wadded in a tissue. The perpetrator was suspended the same day.
Update 6/26/2008: Sign this Petition
This happened only a couple towns over from where I currently live and where I grew up, so I’m particularly shocked by this. Lighting another student on fire is unbelieveable, and lighting a student’s turban on fire is even harder to imagine.
The school has already taken steps to resolve the situation — including the permanent dismissal of the perpetrator. The Sikh Coalition is to be applauded for its quick action in this case.
The last time something like this happened, it was in Marlboro, NJ. Here’s the Sikh Coalition’s summary of it, and here’s a decent article about it: Speaker offers insight to ancient Sikh religion –
Incident at Marlboro Middle School prompts lesson for student leaders. I’d certainly be happy to help in any way I can.
Update 6/9/08: Looks like the perpetrator was permanently dismissed from the school and charged with a hate crime. Click for more details.
On Saturday May 10, 2008, accused murderous mob leader Kamal Nath spoke at Northwestern University.
The nationally renowned Sikh Coalition notified its members and encouraged them to write to Northwestern’s administration (which I did). Sikhtoons posted this take on the situation.
So what’s the deal? How did we get here? Various human rights organizations report Kamal Nath as being a key facilitator in the 1984 pogroms, where thousands of innocent Sikhs were killed. Sanjay Suri, a journalist, reported Kamal Nath’s presence controlling the crowd that attacked Gurudwara Rakab Ganj. You can see the details in a report produced by Ensaaf. Click here for the report, and just search it for Kamal Nath (pages 54, 72, 104, 127).
So why isn’t Kamal Nath behind bars? This case reminded me of a NYTimes article I read 8 years ago. Read it!
In India the Wheels of Justice Hardly Move
By BARRY BEARAK
Published: June 1, 2000
Way back when or, to be more precise, way, way, way back when — an illiterate meat cutter, Abdul Waheed, filed a lawsuit against his next-door-neighbor, a stubborn milk merchant named Mohammad Nanhe.
The article talks about how tiny cases take many decades to resolve. Just imagine how long it would take to resolve a case involving a powerful politician!
Organizations like Ensaaf (the word translates to Justice) are doing everything in their power to make sure justice is served. That’s all we as citizens of the world can want — a justice system that works. And of course, it is our duty to protect “justice for all,” which is what makes America so great.
For more information, I encourage you to see the movie Amu. The Indian censor board cut 6 lines of dialog from the film, saying, “Why should young people know a history that is best forgotten?”
Finally, the Chicago Tribune’s Mandy Brachear has this post on the story.
|April 14, 2008|
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Check out the attached flyer for a Sikh Coalition rally on Vaisakhi, to “show your support for the fight against hatred and discrimination.” At a recent Manhattan Sikh Association Kirtan Darbar, Amardeep Singh noted that the results of a comprehensive survey would be presented, outlining the specific gaps between what NY Sikhs are guaranteed by the law, and the treatment they experience today.
The other day I received a powerful email from the Sikh Coalition. They might have hired a professional marketing firm to write the text, because it really caught my attention. It references several Internet comments on Sikh stories in the recent media:
“THERE IS NO DISCUSSION REQUIRED HERE. TAKE THE TOWEL OFF… OUR COUNTRY, OUR RULES.”
Reader comment on Newsday discussion board, August 29, 2007
“Why doesn’t he just sit down and shut up. Doesn’t he know he’s from the middle east. a-hole.”
Comment board, Hoboken 411, February 11, 2008.
“When traveling, can TSA make RAG-HEADS remove their rag like all travelers must remove their shoes?”
Viewer Comments, on LiveLeak.com, February 8, 2008
“They still let these people [Sikhs] on planes? Amazing.”
Reader comment on Newsday discussion board, August 29, 2007
These are just four comments. It’s a safe assumption that there are at least 1,000 people for each comment that viewed the news story in question, thought something similar, but just didn’t bother to leave a comment.
At the same time, there are many more people who thought, “wait, he’s a Sikh, what’s that?” And realized who Sikhs are, and the ideals we stand for. If you surf the comments, there are positive ones too, so there are people in this world that are beyond the ignorance that motivates so many.
We need to support organizations like the Sikh Coalition, SALDEF and others that are teams of mostly volunteers working to create some basic awareness. I’ve included the full Sikh Coalition email. They’re doing something cool — if you donate $100 this month they will send you a keychain and 10 glossy “The Sikhs” brochures to distribute to your neighbors.
|December 15, 2007|
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The Sikh Research Institute has teamed up with the Sikh Coalition for a Mark of Excellence retreat. It’s a day long event this Saturday.
MARK OF EXCELLENCE: Becoming Guru Centered
Mark of Excellence is a series of lectures, presentations and workshops specifically catered to meet the needs and desires of a particular audience.
Essentially, participants attend personal and community development sessions that seek to foster the Sikh values based on Gurmat traditions: Sikh scripture, history, and discipline. Other principles of universal significance are also incorporated that do not disturb the harmony of the Sikh faith.
The Sikh Research Institute offers a variety of theme-oriented sessions for emerging leaders in the community - high school, college students, young professionals and adults. Each event seeks to facilitate learning while enhancing personal development and growth for each participant.
Through each program, workshop presenters provide an opportunity for the participants to ask questions and seek an answer through discussion and interpretation.
Saturday - 15 December 2007 | 9am-4pm
Cornell Medical College, 1300 York Ave.
(69th Street and York Ave.) | New York, NY, 10021
The Guru: Connecting with the Divine Light
College Students & Young Professionals
The Sikh Coalition
$5-College Students | $10-Youth Professionals
This Mark of Excellence event will feature the following sessions:
What is Guru? - Meaning, Role & Importance
The Prophet-Genius of Ten Nanaks - Attributes, Lives & Contributions
Guru Granth & Guru Panth - Origin, Development & Institution
Questions & Answers - Open forum to seek opinions from a Gurmat perspective
Directions: Within the city you can use the New York City Transit Subway #6 train to 68th and Lexington Avenue.
Parking: Several garages are located in the area, and metered street parking is also available.
For more information and to obtain a registration form, please contact:
Lead Contact | Manbeena Kaur
212.655.3095 ext.80 | firstname.lastname@example.org
|November 28, 2007|
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The Seattle Sikh community is organizing a Candlelight Vigil for 6pm Wednesday at Renton Gurdwara. Sukhvir Singh was brutally attacked on Saturday and is in the hospital. Please try to attend and show your support for Sukhvir Singh and all other victims of hate crimes. See the official flyer below.
KOMO4 Video Report
King 5 Report and Video Interview
Seattle PI: Intoxicated fan accused of beating Sikh cab driver
Seattle Times: Sikh cab driver injured in assault, Kent man arrested
Seattle Times: Hate-crime charge filed in attack on Sikh cab driver
The Sikh Coalition reports that a cab driver has been brutally attacked in Seattle. It happened this past Saturday. As a Seattle Sikh myself, I’m confident the Seattle Sikh Community and the King County Police will pursue the details of this case until justice is served.
(Seattle, WA) November 26, 2007 - A Sikh cab driver was brutally assaulted by a passenger on Saturday, the night of Gurpurab. Sukhvir Singh’s attacker threatened to kill him, calling him a “terrorist” as he punched and bit him, pulling locks of hair from his head. The Sikh Coalition calls on the King’s County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to prosecute the incident as a hate crime.
The full PR after the jump.
|November 7, 2007|
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Hey, check it out, the Sikh Coalition is having a housewarming bash. Click the image to view the full-size invitation. I had the distinct pleasure of receiving this invite from one of the Sikh Coalition Sevadars, Manbeena Kaur. Thanks Manbeena!