UNITED SIKHSWinner of the Sikhs and Charities Award
Aug 25, 2011
10th Bhadon (Samvat 543 Nanakshahi)
Community Update
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UNITED SIKHS Presents at Washington Times Religious Freedom Conference:
"Stop Religious Persecution Now!"

Highlights:

  • UNITED SIKHS spoke about the Religious persecution of Sikhs at the "Stop Religious Persecution Now" Conference hosted by the Washington Times.
  • UNITED SIKHS works across the globe to combat religious intolerance through advocacy and policy work, and education and outreach. To view our 2010 Global Sikh Civil & Human Rights Report, click here.
  • If you feel you have been discriminated against and have questions about what to do about it, please contact law-usa@unitedsikhs.org.
  • Please Be Involved, Click here to get started!; To receive forthcoming bulletins join our UNITED SIKHS Yahoo group; To donate go to www.unitedsikhs.org/donate.
Washington, DC:  On July 13, 2011, the Washington Times held a conference entitled "Stop Religious Persecution Now," which was an interactive discussion with over 200 people from all faiths. Religious leaders and activists of many faith groups gathered to express their views and experiences of religious persecution, and called for acceptance of religious pluralism. They also discussed how the great need is for the United States government to increase its efforts in fighting religious discrimination both nationally and internationally. The event was co-sponsored by the Washington Times Foundation and the U.S. Chapter of the Universal Peace Federation.

Suzan Johnson Cook
Image of Suzan Johnson Cook, Ambassador at Large For International Religious Freedom (center front) and
 interfaith leaders, including UNITED SIKHS Senior Staff Attorney, Hansdeep Singh (center front)

Speakers and attendees included religious freedom advocates, lawmakers, and representatives from various faith-based groups who represented Christians, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Baha’is, Scientologists, and Unificationists. Rev. In Jin Moon, the keynote speaker and president and CEO of the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, stated that "tolerating" or "coexisting" with people from diverse faiths was simply not enough. "Do we not belong to one family?" she asked, "How can you mistreat another faith group just because you don't understand them, just because you don't agree?"

UNITED SIKHS Senior Staff Attorney Hansdeep Singh presented testimony about the religious persecution of Sikhs focusing specifically on the religious profiling that is increasingly prevalent in the United States. To emphasize this point, UNITED SIKHS created a visual graphic outlining some of the major challenges faced by Sikhs in the United States post 9/11, including how the evolution of discriminatory Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security policies since 9/11 have an impact on: hate crimes, bullying, and employment discrimination.

Panelists and attendees of the Conference
Panelists and attendees of the Conference

In his testimony, Mr. Singh highlighted the dehumanizing impact of TSA security policies because Sikhs are subject to mandatory additional screening. The handout provided a visual depiction of the negative effects that policies such as those currently being implemented by TSA have on minority communities because such policies allow for religoius profiling, which has ripple effects throughout the larger society. Also addressing the attendees and interfaith leaders at the the Conference was Suzan Johnson-Cook, the State Department’s ambassador-at-large for  international religious freedom. She emphasized that, “Everyone should have the right to believe or not believe" and that she has been and will continue to fight for religious freedom globally.

The Conference also served as a platform to raise awareness of bill HR 1856 authored by Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Virginia).  This bill improves on the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) and will ensure that the U.S. takes a more active role in safeguarding the religious rights of all faith groups domestically and internationally.

UNITED SIKHS will continue to fight for the religious rights of Sikhs to ensure that Sikhs have the ability to practice their religion freely throughout the world. Some recent examples of our successes have been:

What can you do to get involved? Raise your voice! Educate others about Sikhism. Contact us by clicking here! Donate to our ongoing work by clicking here!
  • Take a look at the calendar of events surrounding the 10th anniversary of 9/11 below. Please show your support by attending these events, also consider participating in these events to provide a Sikh perspective, and to honor the victims of 9/11 and promote a peaceful tomorrow:
    • Unheard Voices of 9/11: Community Hearings Hosted by Sikh Coalition from 1pm-4pm and on Saturday August 27th in San Francisco.  Join this important discussion on the impact of 9/11 on the rights and liberties of Arabs, Muslims, and Sikhs.
    • National Week of Action: Reflecting on Our Loss and Reclaiming Our Rights Hosted by Rights Working Group from September 11th -17th across the country, click here to view a map of events and find out more about how to get involved.
    • An America for All of Us Campaign led by South Asian Americans Leading Together, click here to view events taking place across the country and find out more about how to get involved.
    • Prepare New York is a coalition of interfaith organizations who are hosting a series of events surrounding the 10th anniversary of 9/11, click here to learn more and get involved in these events.
    • New York Civil Liberties Union Panel Discussion on the meaning of 9/11 taking place Wednesday September 7th from 10am to noon at the New York County Lawyers' Association at 14 Vesey St.
    • New York Civil Liberties Union 9/11 Memorial on  Thursday, Sept. 8 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the corner of Church Street and Park Place.
    • Inter-Faith Conference at Georgetown University from Sept. 8 to Sept. 10th. RSVP Required.
  • Would you like to volunteer and work on religious freedoms issues? Contact law-usa@unitedsikhs.org
  • Have you or someone you know been deprived of the right to practice their faith freely? If so, e-mail the UNITED SIKHS legal team at law-usa@unitedsikhs.org
  • Participate in education and awareness efforts about Sikhs and Sikhism. For ideas, tools, and more information on how to get involved, contact us at the e-mail address above and fill out our volunteer form by clicking here.

Volunteer with UNITED SIKHS, and Donate to our civil rights advocacy projects.


Issued by:

Ilana Ofgang
Legal Fellow
law-usa@unitedsikhs.org
(888) 243-1690

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Protect Our Identity (POI) is an ongoing international campaign launched by UNITED SIKHS in August 2010 . It focuses on the need to protect the Sikh community's right to express its religious identity.  Initiatives under the POI campaign include:
UNITED SIKHS is currently looking for enthusiastic volunteers who are willing to spread the message of the campaign within their own communities. To join or contribute to the campaign, volunteer or donate to UNITED SIKHS.
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OUR MISSION

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.