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This Community Voice may be read online at: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/COMVCE-20-01-2009-00.htm
Tuesday, 20th Jan 2009
8th Maagh (Samvat 541 Nanakshahi)
New York, NY, USA: The poem inscribed on a plaque in the Statue of Liberty welcoming those seeking a better life and the realization of a dream has become embedded in our minds. On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood in Washington D.C., eyes affixed on the future, sharing his vision with the nation. Today cementing this vision, you, President Obama, stand as a beacon of the beauty of this great nation in the very same Washington D.C. Mr. Obama, in this land of opportunity, your inauguration as the nation’s first African American president truly marks a momentous, historic event, and has given hope to all that the opportunity is still alive.
As you undertake the terrific challenges facing our great nation today, UNITED SIKHS, an international UN affiliated, civil rights and humanitarian relief organization, working for millions of Sikhs and other minorities globally, urges you to consider the aspirations of all minorities. We request you to work with and involve the various communities which make this nation the standard bearer in the world. As you stated at the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, "Let us recognize what unites us across borders and build on the strength of this blessed country. Let us embrace our history and our legacy."
Since September 11, 2001, Sikhs have faced brutal hate crimes and discrimination. A few examples include the death of Balbir Singh Sodhi in Mesa, Arizona, the savage beating of a 63 year old Baljeet Singh of New York in January 2008, and just yesterday, the savage beating of a 21 year old Jasmir Singh of New York, who lost his left eye due to the attack. UNITED SIKHS requests you, Mr. President, to listen and work with us to clear the hurdles placed before our community. The half a million Sikhs residing in the United States saw the earnest goodness of this nation on grand display when a member of the minority community was granted the opportunity to govern.
Consistent with your statement, "Don't underestimate the power of people who join together...they can accomplish amazing things," we recently held a Global Sikh Conference on the December 13-15, 2008 in New York, and it was unanimously incorporated through resolutions that the Sikhs be allowed to practice their faith without fear of prosecution and/or persecution in any country. We implore you to work to ensure that this becomes the reality in America.
As you tackle foreign policy, we urge you to look into the critical issue of the Sikhs in France. France has passed a law that doesn’t allow Sikh children to wear their turban (dastaar) in schools, as reported in the US State Department Report in 2007. The Sikhs have challenged France in the United Nations to allow one the fundamental right of exercising one’s religion.
The Sikh community stands united with our American brothers and sisters on this historic occasion as you become inaugurated as our 44th President. As you have so eloquently stated, "It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to where we are today, but we have just begun. Today we begin in earnest the work of making sure that the world we leave our children is just a little bit better than the one we inhabit today." UNITED SIKHS pledges to work with you in making this world just a little bit better.
Our previous request to President Obama is available here.
To transform underprivileged and minority communities and individuals into informed and vibrant members of society through civic, educational and personal development programs, by fostering active participation in social and economic activity.
UNITED SIKHS is also an avenue for networking between like-minded organisations to establish and nurture meaningful projects and dialogues - whether social, cultural or political- to promote harmony, understanding and reciprocity in our villages, towns and cities.
UNITED SIKHS is a coalition of organisations and individuals, who share a common vision based on the belief that there is no greater endeavour than to serve, empower and uplift fellow beings. The core of our philosophy is an unwavering commitment to civic service and social progress on behalf of the common good.
Accordingly, UNITED SIKHS has sought to fulfil its mission not only by informing, educating and uplifting fellow beings but also by participating in cross-cultural and political exchanges to ensure that the promises and benefits of democracy are realized by all.
We at UNITED SIKHS believe that the development of enlightened and progressive societies can be made possible by socially conscious groups of people who make a commitment to develop and direct human potential. Our work, efforts and achievements stand as a testament to our faith in this vision.