Archive for the ‘ICHRA-USA’ Category.

Religious Tolerance or Religious Embrace? Memorial Service Honoring the Six Slain Sikhs in Oak Creek, Wisconsin

“Spreading Love and Peace, Defeating Hate” Attendees and Speakers at the

Garden State Sikh Association Gurdwara, 977 Washingtonvalley Road, Baskingridge, NJ

on August 24, 2013

 

Bridgewater, New Jersey- UNITED SIKHS and the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP), together organized a vigil/memorial service in remembrance of those who lost their lives in the Oak Creek Tragedy last year. The memorial event was hosted by the Garden State Sikh Association Gurudwara Sahib in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. The theme and topic of the event was “Spreading Love and Peace, Defeating Hate.”

The congregation was addressed by Hon’ John Jay Hoffman, Acting Attorney General of New Jersey and Mr.Edward Dickson, Director, NJ Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness. AG Hoffman was kind enough to attend the service with his wife and spend a Saturday afternoon interacting with community members. AG Hoffman while addressing the gathering said that he was extremely saddened by the tragedy in Oak Creek. He ensured that Sikhs and other communities should be rest assured that his department will not sleep unless they have secured all houses of worship in the state. He discussed how uncomfortable he was using the term “religious tolerance” in explaining how people should be respectful of different faiths and said the correct word should be “embrace.” He explained we should embrace people of other faiths and not just tolerate them.

AG Hoffman also praised Director Dickson along with the NJ Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness for the work their continuous efforts. Director Dickson informed the gathering about the achievements of his department including conducting workshops over the past year to train security coordinators and community members of various houses of worship in the state. He went over a dashboard and a timeline of OHSP’s work over the year in engaging closely with Presidents and security coordinators of various houses of worship to conduct workshops and threat based trainings on how to secure houses of worship, how to identity threat factors and suspects, and active shooter workshops. Director Dickson informed of OHSP’s significant achievements on the aforementioned fronts after the Wisconsin massacre and will continue to conduct more training and workshops. He acknowledged and complimented the efforts of UNITED SIKHS in working together with NJOHSP to develop a Sikh primer for law enforcement. He also acknowledged the efforts of UNITED SIKHS in working with the Department of Education to include information on Sikhs and Sikhism in the New Jersey School curriculum.

The Sikh turban is still seen as a symbol of hostility in the paranoia that has gripped the nation after 9/11. All the aforementioned incidents indicate that there is still a section of people that equate the Sikh turban with Islamic extremism.  These people fail to understand the fact that this is a country of immigrants; that their fathers or forefathers were also immigrants and there is no set of rules, or a set definition of an American appearance. There is still a pressing need for more awareness campaigns to educate people about the fifth largest religion in the world, Sikhism.

Dr.Gurparkash Singh, Director of UNITED SIKHS, gracefully conducted the stage as the Master of Ceremonies for the event. Other speakers at the event include: Nina Chanpreet Kaur, MSEd; Scot Pruiksma, Founder of Interlocking Arms; Howard Norgalis & Filipe Pedrose, Councilmen

Bridgewater Township; Rev Moises Bogdady; Dr. Ellen J Lindeman; Timothy Burk; Anju Bhargava, Hindu American Seva; Dr Ali Chaudry, Islamic Society of Basking Ridge; Hafiz Samiullah Chaudhry, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community; and Micheal Tiger, Anti-Defamation Leagure, NJ.

UNITED SIKHS Staff Attorney Manmeet Singh spoke on the topic of “Spreading Love and Defeating Hate.” He narrated Bhai Kanahaiyaji’s story to to illustrate the importance of the principle of spreading love and defeating hate in Sikhism. The story contained an account from 1704 during the battle of Anandpur Sahib when fellow Sikhs complained to Guru Gobind Singh ji, pointing out that Bhai Kanahaiyaji was serving water to the wounded soldiers from the enemy camp. Guru Gobind Singh summoned Bhai Kanhaiya and explained that he had received a complaint about his actions on the battlefield.

Guruji said, “These brave Sikhs are saying that you go and feed water to the enemy and they recover to fight them again – Is this true?” Bhai Kanhaiya Ji replied “Yes, my Guru, what they say is true. But, I saw no Mughal or Sikh on the battlefield. I only saw human beings. And, … Guru Ji, .. they all have the same God’s Spirit? – Guru Ji, have you not taught us to treat all God’s people as the same?” The Guru was very pleased with the reply. Bhai Kanhaiya Ji had understood the deep message of Gurbani correctly. Guru ji smiled and blessed Bhai Kanhaiya. Guru Ji said, “Bhai Kanhaiya Ji, You are right. You have understood the true message of Gurbani”.

Mr. Manmeet Singh also spoke about the Wisconsin massacre and the various hate crimes that were perpetrated against Sikhs around the country even after the massacre. Prominent among them were the recent scribbling of the word “terrorist” twice on the walls of a Gurudwara in Riverside, California; the vicious attack on 82 year old Sikh, Piara Singh, after he had just exited his local Gurudwara for a morning walk. Singh’s attack was confirmed as a hate crime; the attacker, a 29 year old male named Gilbert Garcia was arrested. The police reported that upon Garcia’s arrest, he shouted that he hated “those people” and wanted to bomb their temples. The shooting in Port Orange, Florida where a Sikh man named Kanwaljit Singh was shot multiple times while driving a car with his 13 year old son sitting next to him, was also mentioned.

UNITED SIKHS thanks Mr.David Leonardis, OHSP, and Director Dickson for leading and coordinating this event; as well as all the activities and efforts that OHSP had undertaken in the aftermath of Wisconsin to make all the Houses of Worship safe and secure; and  their efforts to achieve grants for those houses of worship who need them. We strongly believe that such trainings play a pivotal role in thwarting similar attempts by misguided people to attack the congregation. We hope that these trainings, workshops and grants will continue until there are strong systems in place at all houses of worship to prevent such tragedies. We also thank AG Hoffman for his promise to the community, and his inspiring and insightful message that he gave to the  congregation. Special thanks to all the speakers who took time out of their busy schedules to give insight on the topic at hand.

Please click here for a link to the album from the event.

 

Share

First Sikh American Offers Prayers at the 67th United Nations General Assembly Opening Session

Community Update

First Sikh American Offers Prayers at the 67th United Nations General Assembly Opening Session!

Highlights:

  • Jatinder P. Singh, a Sikh American and an Associate Director, UNITED SIKHS, offers prayers at the 67th United Nations (UN) General Assembly opening session conducted in the General Assembly building of the UN.
  • Over 1500 attendees, including UN President H.E. Mr. Vuk Jeremic and leaders from various religious organizations across the globe, joined hands to promote messages of world peace.
  • UNITED SIKHS is the first Sikh UN-DPI affiliated organization and is recognized by the United Nations since December 2007.
  • Click here to see the prayer. Continue reading ‘First Sikh American Offers Prayers at the 67th United Nations General Assembly Opening Session’ »
Share

UNITED SIKHS Joins Elected Officials to Commemorate Illinois House Resolution 1193, Denouncing Hate Crimes Against Sikh Americans and Other Minorities

Palatine, Illinois: On Sunday, December 16th, UNITED SIKHS joined the South Asian and Sikh community at Palatine Gurdwara to commemorate the passing of House Resolution 1193 (HR 1193). This Resolution denounces the deplorable attacks on Sikh Americans and denounces hate crimes and hateful political rhetoric.

UNITED SIKHS worked with South Asian Policy and Research Institute (SAAPRI), Council on American-Islamic Relations Chicago (CAIR-Chicago) and the Sikh Religious Society of Chicago (Palatine Gurdwara Management Committee) in drafting the language and advocating for this resolution. “We hope the resolution will provide an agenda for even more specific laws for the future,” said Ami Gandhi, Executive Director at SAAPRI.

Rep. Biss (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Rep. Biss speaking to Palatine Gurdwara Sangat (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Ald. Pawar, Greg Bales, Rep. Biss and Sen. Murphy (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Ald. Pawar, Greg Bales, Rep. Biss and Sen. Murphy (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Rep. Mussman (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Rep. Mussman  speaking to Palatine Gurdwara Sangat (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palatine Gurdwara President Sukhdev Kaur began the commemoration by observing a moment of silence for the victims of the Newtown Connecticut shooting and making a request that the congregation pray for the families of the victims. Among the elected officials who made remarks at the commemoration and the press conference that followed were Senator Matt Murphy (27th District), Rep. Daniel Biss (17th District), Rep. Michelle Mussman (56th District), Alderman Ameya Pawar (47th Ward) and Greg Bales from US Senator Dick Durbin’s office.

Ald. Pawar, Sen. Murphy, Rep. Biss and Rep. Mussman (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Ald. Pawar, Sen. Murphy, Rep. Biss and Rep. Mussman (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Ekta Kaur, Ald. Pawar, Vikram Singh, Amrith Kaur, Rep. Biss, Sukhdev Kaur and Sen. Murphy (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Ekta Kaur, Ald. Pawar, Vikram Singh, Amrith Kaur, Rep. Biss, Sukhdev Kaur and Sen. Murphy (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Community at Press Conference (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Community at Press Conference (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“We are excited to work with our state legislators, faith-based groups, and policy organizations to promote tolerance and counter bigotry,” said Rabya Khan, Staff Attorney at CAIR-Chicago. “This resolution is a first step in acknowledging that there is a greater need to educate the greater Illinois community on Sikh Americans and other minorities,” said Ekta Kaur, Regional Director of UNITED SIKHS. She added “Our community and the Illinois government must work together to create further programs to help prevent hate crimes and uphold our civil rights.”

Shiva Singh, Ald. Pawar, Sen. Murphy, Vikram Singh and Rep. Biss (Photo courtesy of SAAPRI)

Shiva Singh Khalsa, Ald. Pawar, Sen. Murphy, Vikram Singh and Rep. Biss (Photo courtesy of SAAPRI)

Ekta Kaur, Ald. Pawar, Vikram Singh, Amrith Kaur, Rep. Biss, Sukhdev Kaur, Sen. Murphy, Rajinder Mago, Balwant Hansra, Ami Gandhi, Gurdwara Attendee, Ahmed Rehab (Photo courtesy of SAAPRI)

UNITED SIKHS, SAAPRI, CAIR-Chicago and Sikh Religious Society of Chicago with Elected Officials (Photo courtesy of SAAPRI)

Tejas Shah, Ekta Kaur, Ald. Pawar and Vikram Singh (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

Tejas Shah, Ekta Kaur, Ald. Pawar and Vikram Singh (Photo courtesy of CAIR-Chicago)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SEE ALSO: Recent article by local journalist Mariam Khan, “State lawmakers’ new anti-hate resolution could boost Chicago’s immigrant-friendly drive.”

To volunteer in the greater Chicago area, please contact Ekta Kaur at ekta.kaur@unitedsikhs.org.

Vikram Singh
Pro Bono Counsel
UNITED SIKHS (Illinois)
Tel: 888-243-1690
vikram.singh@unitedsikhs.org

UNITED SIKHS – Recognize the Human Race as One

Share

UNITED SIKHS, along with other NGOs meets with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to discuss on growing Human Rights concerns

October 24th, New York: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay met with over 20 NGOs on  October 24th at the UN Church Center in New York to address the growing human rights concerns  and also shared the updates on OHCHR’s activities. The meeting was moderated by Vice Chair for NGO Committee on Human Rights, Dr. Bobbi Nassar.

The Commissioner gave an overview of the OHCHR’s 2011-2012 activities. This included the workings of the Human Rights Council, the Universal Periodic Review, and, a great increase in the number of instances in which human rights (and the OHCHR) is gaining strength at the UN and in “post-2015 development” discussions. “The growing recognition of the centrality of human rights in the peace, security, development and humanitarian agendas, and trust in OHCHR is very rewarding,” Ms. Pillay noted. However, she warned that financial constraints are limiting the resources required to support her office’s mandated activities.

UNITED SIKHS questioned about the ban of conspicuous symbols such as turbans and headgears in schools and in general(in specific countries)which violate the very essence of human rights. The High Commissioner responded saying that “A faith group and minority have the right to practice and manifest their culture, religion and identity without discrimination and I oppose these principles and standards when I raise these matters with government. They have to find balance to accommodate diversity.”

US will continue advocating for equal rights as enshrined in the charter of UN.

 

Share

UNITED SIKHS represents Sikh Community at the Annual Event of UN SUB-COMMITTEE FOR THE ELIMINATION OF RACISM

UNITED SIKHS participated and represented Sikh Community at the SACRED SEASON PROGRAM organized by Sub-Committee for the Elimination of Racism on October 18th at Baha’i International Community’s United Nations Office in New York. The event invited leaders and speakers from different communities and religions to get together and converse on their views on the topic: THE IMPACT OF RELIGION, SPIRITUALITY AND BELIEFS ON RACISM, MIGRATION AND DEVELOPMENT. The event was facilitated by Dr. Bobbi Nassar, Co-Chair Ngo Committee on Human Rights and Mr. Bruce Knotts, Chair Ngo Committee On Human Rights.

Prabhkaran Singh, staff attorney with UNITED SIKHS was one of the speakers and represented Sikh Community at the event. “We as Sikhs believe that there is only one God, the same God for people of all religions. One of the motto of Sikhism and the UNITED SIKHS tag line is to “Recognize the Human Race as One”, essentially a class-less society where racism is not permitted. Every one should be allowed to exercise their right to freedom of movement & and residence within the borders of each state.” said Prabhkaran Singh. Bruce Knots in his closing remarks spoke about the challenges Sikh community has been facing since 9/11 and commended the community for its persistence.

Share

UNITED SIKHS Voter Registration Drive at Illinois Gurdwara

23rd Assu (Samvat 544 Nanakshahi)

Oct 7th. 2012, Palatine, Illinois: On Sunday, October 7th, UNITED SIKHS along with the Asian American Institute held a Voter Registration Drive at Palatine Gurdwara. A total of 35 people were registered to vote in Illinois at the Gurdwara. The President of the Gurdwara, Sukhdev Kaur Ghuman was very supportive and commended UNITED SIKHS for their successful and collaborative community advocacy efforts. Ekta Kaur of UNITED SIKHS said, “We loved working with the Palatine Gurdwara community and request other Gurdwara leaders to play an active role in encouraging their members to register to vote.”

UNITED SIKHS would like to thank Ami Gandhi, Executive Director of South Asian Policy and Research Institute and Reema Ahmad, Civic Engagement and Field Operations Manager at the American Asian Institute for all their assistance. Two members of the Asian American Institute assisted UNITED SIKHS at the Gurdwara and also brought Illinois Voter Registration forms and Mail-In Ballot forms.

While the Gurdwara had held voter registration drives in the prior two weeks by other organizations, this event registered significantly more members of the Gurdwara because of the ability of the UNITED SIKHS team to communicate effectively with community members, many of whom only spoke Punjabi. Sukhdev Kaur, the Gurdwara President said, “I am very excited about UNITED SIKHS efforts and look forward to working with you again in the future on advocacy projects directed toward the Sikh community.”

Vikram Singh, a UNITED SIKHS Volunteer Attorney based in Chicago, IL, said, “Sikhs and other minorities in every state should make their voices be heard by registering to vote and encouraging their communities to participate in civic engagement. Our vote is a very powerful mechanism for giving us a voice and the ability to control the legislation and policies enacted in our states, including laws that affect the rights of Sikhs and other minorities.”

To initiate a voter registration drive in your Gurdwara or local community center, please reach out to Ekta Kaur at ekta.kaur@unitedsikhs.org or voter-registration-usa@unitedsikhs.org.

Ekta Kaur
Cell: 516-286-6727 | Tel: 1-646-688-3525 | Toll Free: 1-888-243-1690
Fax: 1-810-885-4264 | Email: ekta.kaur@unitedsikhs.org

UNITED SIKHS – Recognize the Human Race as One

Share

Allow Sikh Officers the Right to Maintain their Turbans and Beards- Sign the petition!

29th Sep 2012  | 15th Assu (Samvat 544 Nanakshahi)

Allow Sikh Officers the Right to Maintain their Turbans and Beards- Sign the petition!

Highlights

  • UNITED SIKHS co-sponsors the petition with Comptroller Liu for NYPD to Reform Religious Garb Policy supported by Sikh Gurdwaras of NYC, Sikh Organizations and activists.
  • The petition can be found at http://comptroller.nyc.gov/sikh/

Continue reading ‘Allow Sikh Officers the Right to Maintain their Turbans and Beards- Sign the petition!’ »

Share

Sikh gentleman from New Jersey has gone missing.

Glenrock, New Jersey:   A Sikh gentleman  Sukhvinder Singh  from New Jersey. has gone missing.

More information can be found here: http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Police-Search-for-Missing-Winslow-Twp-Man–170337826.html.
Continue reading ‘Sikh gentleman from New Jersey has gone missing.’ »

Share

Explore the aesthetic and expressive traditions within Sikhism this fall at Hofstra University

Hofstra University and the Sardarni Kuljit Kaur Bindra Chair in Sikh Studies invites you to a conference on the  literary and  visual cultures within, or pertaining to,  Sikh traditions both in Panjabi and Diasporic contexts. The conference will be held from Oct 19-21, 2012 at Hofstra University.

For more information and registration, please visit:

http://www.hofstra.edu/Academics/Colleges/HCLAS/REL/SIKH/sikh_literature_fall12.html

For inquiries please contact Mehwish Shafi : mehwishafi91@gmail.com

Poster 1 Two Talks 8.5×11

Poster 2 Two Talks in Conf 8.5×11

Poster 3 All 11×17

Share

Attention:​Venue Change for Senate Hearing on Hate Crimes on September 19th

Community Update
Washington DC, DC: The Senate Judiciary Hearing on Hate Crimes and Domestic Extremism is today,  Wednesday, September 19th at 2:30 pm (Hart Senate Office Building, Room 216 – Please note the location change). 

Even though the hearing is today, there are still many ways that your organization can show its support as well as resources to assist you.

1.       Attend the hearing and post-hearing press conference:  We need to pack the hearing room to emphasize the importance of these issues to all communities.  Also, a press conference will be held at approximately 4:30pm (immediately after the hearing) outside of the hearing room featuring allies supporting the hearing.  Please attend and encourage colleagues, local affiliates, and constituents to attend!  If you plan to attend, please fill out this RSVP form created by the Sikh Coalition so that we can get a sense of the number of people attending and the necessary space required.  If you cannot attend, you can also stream it here.

Continue reading ‘Attention:​Venue Change for Senate Hearing on Hate Crimes on September 19th’ »

Share