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Friday, November 12, 2010

2:18PM - New Article on Sikhs and Sikhism

With Obama passing on visiting the Golden Temple, I thought now might be a good time to write an article about Sikhism for Suite 101. If you'd like to check it out, please just go to: http://www.suite101.com/content/mistaken-minority--a-history-on-the-faith-and-life-of-sikhs-a306698

I'd love to know what you think so please feel free to comment at the site!

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

4:20PM - Announcing the new, official India community


Greetings from LJ_India, the new official India community we’re piloting to connect all our India users.

We’re writing to invite you to take a first look at the Community as it’s launched and share your feedback. You’re, of course, under absolutely no obligation to join, but we’d be delighted if you did :)

Do join us at http://community.livejournal.com/lj_india/ and let's get this conversation started!

Cheers and thanks,


team_lj_india

Team Blogworks for LiveJournal India

Current mood: excited

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Friday, September 21, 2007

4:21PM - Turbans Are 'Diapers' On The Air in California (cadged from the fabulous Anna of Sepia Mutiny)

I think someone owes Sikh people an apology [via India West].

When Los Angeles right-wing talk radio host Al Rantel referred to a turbaned Sikh as wearing a “diaper” on his head last week, one local Indian American man decided that he’d had enough.
“If he does not correct himself, on the air, we’re going to put pressure on him,” Navraj Singh told India-West by phone Sept. 17. “I’m getting calls from around the country, and Sikh temples are collecting signatures,” said Singh, adding that he was ready to lead a protest outside the radio station
Rantel is a conservative host whose show airs on KABC 790AM every weekday in Los Angeles. During his Sept. 10 show, Rantel was discussing airport security, and said that if his own 80-year-old mother had to take off her shoes during a security screening, “… then why shouldn’t a Sikh be required to take off the hat that looks like a diaper they wear on their heads?” recalled Singh. [IndiaVest]
When contacted, Rantel’s accomplice producer eloquently stated that this @$$#o!#’$ words were “taken out of context”. Awww. Of course they were! Because there obviously exists a context wherein diapers and turbans nestle innocently in the same sentence. Maybe Rantel was saying, “I saw a nice Sikh man changing his baby’s diaper…it’s great to see Fathers taking such an active role!” Yeah, no…as my little cousin would say.

See? They DO exist:

Singh describes himself as a semi-regular listener to the show, and says he himself is a conservative Republican.
In a strongly worded letter he sent to KABC Sept. 12, Singh challenged Rantel to an on-air debate. Rantel’s team has not yet responded to him. [IndiaVest]
coughCHICKENcough. Gosh, I really need some Ricola. Must be the weather. Seasons change, feelings change, (and now I have Expose in my head, as I fume over this latest example of disrespect).

This Uncle has weathered b.s. in the past:

After a successful career as a decorated officer in the Indian Army, Singh immigrated to New York in 1974, and says he has faced discrimination as a turbaned Sikh in the United States. He says he was laughed at when he started a job as a door-to-door vacuum salesman that year (he later became the company’s top seller, he said), and maintains that he was forced out of another successful sales job in 1979 because his boss was afraid of anti-Iran sentiment during the Iranian hostage crisis.
For those of you in the L.A. area, Singh is the man behind India’s Oven/Tantra. One of his restaurants (the original “oven”) was destroyed during the ‘92 riots. But I digress.

Rantel the ignorant (I shall bestow this title upon him, yes), is gay and the grandson of Italian immigrants. I know that the latter detail is irrelevant, because this country is fine with Europeans choosing to settle here (shocker— he’s a Minuteman fan), but I am naive enough to be disappointed that his sexual preference didn’t gift him with any compassion. I guess no one ever gave him a hard time. Heh.

So Rantel’s schtick is getting his listeners to “think”, while being funny…which is exactly what we try and do here. Ek teeny weeny difference— I don’t think we’d ever say something as nasty as what he did. I’m thinking that has to do with the whole compassion thing, along with, you know, not being thoughtless.

Singh sees no levity in Rantel’s “diaper” comment.
Me, neither!

“I’m grateful to God that I am a Sikh,” he said. “Our religion is an open book. I want to tell Americans that we have to somehow maintain a nice tone when speaking to each other. Then we can understand each other better, and create a better world for all of us.”
Blame the mouse (Disney owns a majority of Citadel):

KABC 790 AM is a Los Angeles radio station, and a West Coast flagship station for the American Broadcasting Company. A pioneer of the talk radio format, the station went “all-talk” in 1960; they are of the first station ever to do so. This is one of many Disney/ABC Radio stations that has now merged with Citadel Broadcasting and remains an ABC affiliate to this day.[wiki: KABC]
Rantel has characterized his program with several trademarks: live on-the-spot promotions of products and services (unusual in talk radio), frequent presentation of unusual and unknown news stories, and citation of analogies and adages, many of which are his own. [wiki]
He believes in diversity! Well, except diversity of religious headgear.

Despite the numerous appearances of conservatives such as Ann Coulter, the program often features guests with very different opinions than the host. In addition, many guests are authors or leaders of a particular organization. [wiki]
So this next part contains an interesting detail— Rantel doesn’t like anti-semitism. Problem solved! Someone should explain that a turban is more like a yarmulke than a diaper.

Rantel is clearly a political conservative on issues such as the role of the Judicial Branch and taxes. He is known to be a strong supporter of the policies and presidency of Ronald Reagan. He is distinctively critical of what he perceives to be political correction, very supportive of Israel, and irritated by antisemitism, outsourcing of tech support, excessive body weight, and certain statements of Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamente and Madeleine Albright. Primarily in regard to differences with the Bush administration over illegal immigration issues, Rantel is noticeably at odds with specific policies of George W. Bush and Republican members of Congress. [wiki]
He’s edgy! He disagrees with Dubya! But hey, what’s up with the size-ism?

Anyway, here’s the obligatory “we’d love to hear from you”-bullshit from KABC’s website:

We appreciate you taking the time to contact us. We always enjoy hearing comments from our listeners. Unfortunately, due to the large amounts of e-mail that we receive, we may not be able to respond to each and every message. Feel free to call us during business hours, Monday - Friday, 9AM-5PM at 310 840 4900.
Our mailing address is: 3321 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90016.
To advertise on TalkRadio 790 KABC:
Please Contact: Matt Mallon (310) 840-4955
If you have feedback for any of the departments at 790 KABC, please let us know!
Okay, then! They asked for it. Let’s let them know!

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

11:54AM - Hi Everyone!

Hi Guys,

I'm not Sikh, but I am desi. I've always wanted to visit a Gurudwara, but I've never had the opportunity to do so. (I grew up in a small, almost-all-white town, with no desis--sad, but true!)

I was wondering if there is anyone in this community who is from the DC/MD/VA area, who wouldn't mind sharing information about their religion with me? I know there are Gurudwaras in MD and DC, but I've always been shy about going to them alone. Though I am curious. So if you can help me, please comment and let me know. Thanks in advance for the help! :-)

(4 lions in the night | share your thoughts)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

2:11PM - SALDEF to be Interviewed Live on FOX NEWS Today

PRESS RELEASE

SALDEF to be Interviewed Live on FOX NEWS Today

Representatives to discuss revised TSA screening procedure

Washington D.C. – August 29, 2007: The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) will be represented live by Rajbir Singh Datta, Associate Director, on Fox News Channel’s “Your World with Neil Cavuto” this afternoon. 4:00pm EST.

Additionally, Manjit Singh, SALDEF Chairman, will be appearing on Fox News Live hosted by Jon Scott and Ed Hill at NOON EST.

Mr. Datta and Mr. Singh will discuss the Transportation Security Agency’s recent decision on August 4, 2007 to allow screening officers greater “discretion” regarding passenger screening and to enforce additional screening for individuals who wear head coverings. As per the TSA, the new procedure is aimed at head coverings that can possibly hide a threatening non-metallic object. The guidance regarding the new screening procedure, provided to the 43,000 TSOs, lists the Sikh turban among others (cowboy hats, straw hats, etc.), as an example of head coverings that may potentially hide a threatening non-metallic object.

To send comments to program email: cavuto@foxnews.com.

As with all live television programming, the show is subject to change without notice.

For more information on your rights as a passenger, please see below:


* New Airport Security Screening Procedure Affects Sikh Turban
* SALDEF working with TSA to Address Improper Security Screening of Sikh Americans at Nation’s Airports
* New Procedure Announced for Individuals to Clear their Name from TSA Watch Lists
* SALDEF: Airport Security and Your Rights as a Passenger (revised 8/22/07)

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Friday, August 17, 2007

3:46PM - SALDEF to Train Entire Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department

SALDEF leverages expertise and past experience to partner with MPD in comprehensive 10-month awareness effort

Washington D.C. – August 17, 2007: The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) recently formed a partnership with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) of Washington, DC, to train all 3,000 officers of their force about the Sikh American community and their religious practices.

The program, which has been ongoing since March 2007, has trained over 1,000 MPD officers to date. They join the roughly 5,000 local, state, and federal officers trained this year as part of SALDEF’s Law Enforcement Partnership Program (LEPP).

“It is of paramount importance that we reach out to and create strong bonds with law enforcement,” said SALDEF Managing Director Kavneet Singh. “Law enforcement agencies understand the importance of actively engaging with the communities they protect and together through programs like our LEPP, we can create a stronger and safer community.”

Despite being part of the American landscape for about one hundred years, misconceptions still exist about the Sikh American community. Nine out of ten LEPP graduates have reported that what they learned will immediately help them better serve and protect their communities.

The training program is designed to provide law enforcement with an understanding of the Sikh religion and provide recommendations on how to appropriately interact with the community in non-emergency, non-crisis situations. The program utilizes a professionally designed interactive presentation, SALDEF’s Training DVD On Common Ground, and other educational publications including our Who are the Sikhs brochure and SALDEF’s pioneering Law Enforcement Reference Card.

One MPD officer said, “[The SALDEF Program is] the best hour of training I’ve had in twenty years on the force.” Community leaders have also noted stronger and friendlier relationships between law enforcement and the Sikh American community. Since its inception, the heads of the over 150 agencies and 30,000 law enforcement and security officers who have gone through LEPP.


### END ###

About SALDEF:
SALDEF is a national non-profit civil rights and educational organization. SALDEF’s mission is to create a fostering environment in the United States for Sikh Americans. SALDEF protects and promotes the civil rights of Sikh Americans through legal aid, advocacy and educational outreach.


CONTACT:
Navdeep Singh
media@saldef.org
202-393-2700 ext. 27

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

1:59PM - It Happened in America: Killed for Being Sikh

Sacramento County Files Hate Crime Charges in case of Slain Sikh American

Satendar Singh’s alleged murderer flees the United States

Washington, DC – August 14, 2007 – The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), the nation’s oldest and largest Sikh American civil rights and advocacy organization, commends the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department and District Attorney Jan Scully for the steps they are taking to address the murder of Satendar Singh last month.

Last week, DA Scully filed formal charges against Andrey Vusik, for involuntary manslaughter and with committing a hate crime, and Alex Shevchenko, for committing a hate crime and issued warrants for their arrests.

“We commend Sacramento authorities for recognizing the nature of the attack on Mr. Singh and charging his alleged assailants with a hate crime,” said Kavneet Singh, SALDEF Managing Director. “Hate crimes are intended to create a sense of fear within a community and must be dealt with in a serious manner to ensure that perpetrators realize that these vile acts will not be tolerated.”

Mr. Singh died on July 5, 2007 as a result of a severe brain injury he received after a vicious assault four days earlier. The individuals who perpetrated the attack hurled racially, ethnic and sexually charged slurs at Mr. Singh and his friends.

Mr. Vusik, who faces up to eight years in prison, is believed to have fled the United States after the incident. Sacramento County Sherrif's Department are working with the FBI to secure his arrest. Schevchenko, who faces up to three years in prison, is in police custody at a Sacramento County Jail.

If you believe you have been the target of bias, harassment, or a hate crime please contact SALDEF at info@saldef.org or 202-393-2700 or report it online at SALDEF's website.

*x-posted to desixtc*

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Monday, August 13, 2007

4:41PM - Year of Faith, the Conversation Continues

Just thought I would give you all a heads up that I am back at making updates to the Year of Faith website.  Life was less than peaceful and pleasant for the last few weeks, but now I am full of free time and ready to get back to my studies on Sikhism. 

Please, please, please feel free to leave comments, questions, complaints, bitter complaints, or whatever on any of the posts a the site.   Out of the three of us I am the only one that posts regularly to the place seems kind of dead.  Knowing that other people are reading and taking interest makes me think that this project is actually worthwhile.

Hope to hear from you, and a have a great week!

Current mood: optimistic

(1 lions in the night | share your thoughts)

4:22PM - Indians Cry Shame At Days of Carnage Past

International Human Rights Organisation
Of the Indian Subcontinent
210, New Judicial Courts Complex, Ludhiana


Press Release

LUDHIANA, August 12- The International Human Rights Organisation (IHRO), hailing the opinion poll conducted by NDTV for the programme "India at 60", today expressed its happiness over the verdict of Indian people who have said that the Operation Bluestar and the anti-Sikh carnage of 1984 is a black slur on the face of India.

IHRO chairperson D S Gill, general secretary M S Grewal, legal affairs coordinator Sukhdev Singh Ramgarh Sibian and public relations secretary Inderjit Kaur, said in a statement that, "The people in general are always right, it is the power in charge that be should be blamed and accused of such genocide and political blunders."

We also appreciate the pollsters- NDTV & The Hindu- that have ranked the riots after Partition, the Babri Masjid demolition and the imposition of Emergency in the mid-1970s in that order, as other political blunders for which the politicians of the that days are to be cursed, said the IHRO activists.

Terming Indian democracy as the national pride and the bribery as its worst shame, the pollsters have found that secularism and judiciary, besides other things, are the bases of India's achievements. The personalities in the list of icons were Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, besides some others.

But unfortunately, the personalities projected by the managers of the 'opinion poll' do not match with other factors and events mentioned in the opinion poll, the IHRO activists added.

For example, they said, the icons' list includes Indira Gandhi who (along with her son Rajiv Gandhi) was responsible for the Blue Star (army attack on the Golden Temple), the Nov' 84 Sikh genocide and the imposition of Emergency- the national blunders.

The IHRO also asserted: "For all this, pollsters or general public are not at fault. They are innocent, (media) publicity prone people. We, during the last 60 years, are only taught that our (nation's) father (Bapu) is Mahatma Gandhi and uncle (Chacha) Jawaharlal Nehru, ignoring other heroes such as Subash Chander Bose, Bhagat Singh and Guru Gobind Singh."

India is democratic and secular, and its judiciary impartial and independent only so far as the majority community is concerned. Minorities and dalits are still a discriminated lot in India. "Anyway, we hail the opinion poll as a sane and good endeavour for educating the people", concluded the IHRO.

(D.S. Gill, Esq.) Advocate

Chairperson IHRO

Tel: 099140 04092

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

9:19PM - SALDEF Participates in Department of Homeland Security Roundtable

SALDEF Press Release: Secretary Chertoff Engages with Arab, Muslim and Sikh American Youth Leaders

Washington D.C. – August 2, 2007: Last week, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) participated in a roundtable discussion, Security and Liberty: Perspective of Young Leaders Post-9/11, hosted by the Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the George Washington University Homeland Security Policy Institute.

The roundtable presented an opportunity for thirty Arab, Muslim, South Asian, and Sikh American youth leaders to interface and engage with high level government officials, policy experts, and national community leaders including DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff. They primarily discussed issues of civil rights and how they relate to homeland security.

“The roundtable presented us with an opportunity to explain the effects government security policies and initiatives have on our respective communities,” said SALDEF Legal Fellow Nitoj Singh.

SALDEF Associate Director Rajbir Singh Datta served on a series of panels, highlighting both the challenges the Sikh American community has faced since 9/11 and the increased opportunities for positive community-government relationships.

“The two-day roundtable was another step in creating a lasting dialogue between Arab, Muslim, and Sikh American youth and federal policymakers so that we may work together to jointly face the challenges of protecting the nation and its citizen’s civil rights,” said Mr. Datta. “The event highlighted the importance of engaging young leaders in the discussion and the contributions they can make.”

SALDEF thanks DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, Daniel Sutherland, Officer for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of the DHS, and Frank J. Cilluffo, Associate Vice President for Homeland Security at The George Washington University, for organizing and hosting the July 24-25 roundtable at the George Washington University School of Law.

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Saturday, August 4, 2007

1:43PM - Sikh for a Month Looking for Tips and Resources

Hello everyone.

My name is Michael and I am part of a project called the Year of Faith.  The about page can be found here for an extensive introduction and explanation.  But in a nutshell, two of my friends and I have picked twelve religions and are studying and practicing each one , every month, for the entire year.  We aren't doing this for university or some kind weird reality TV show, but for our own interest and education.  This month we are studying Sikhism and I had a few questions about the faith that I hoped you could all help me with.

First off, every month (or almost every month, I should say) we post an introduction about the religion of the month, outlining the basic history, practices, and beliefs.  The intro. to Sikhism is here, and I would appreciate some feedback, such as key aspects that I may have missed or would do well to extrapolate on.

One of the more central aspects of Sikhism seems to be the Khalsa and the Kakars.  I understand that while most Sikhs do not get baptised, many still carry some of the five Ks.  I'm interested in what you think are the most important Kakars, or perhaps which are the ones that would be carried by most Sikhs?

I am also looking for a copy or two of the English translation of the Guru Granth Sahib.  I have yet to find a copy locally (I live in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada) and I was wondering if anyone could recommend a translation or version?  Our local library is on strike right now, though I would prefer to buy it anyway.  I have found a few copies online, but I would rather have a physical copy of my own.

Any other information you feel would be important for me to know or to look into would be very much appreciated.  Please comment either here or at the Year of Faith website, or even send us an e-mail!

Thank you!

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

9:44AM - Feeding Need: Sikh Campaign to Feed the Homeless Shatters Record

Wednesday 18th of July 2007
Sikh Youth of BC and Sikhcess

Vancouver, BC - Sikhcess, a community organization dedicated to highlighting Sikh achievements and promoting the basic Sikh principles of public service, today announced that on Sunday, June 24, 2007, local volunteers successfully prepared, packaged, and delivered a record number of food packages to homeless communities in Vancouver and Surrey, British Columbia.

“I’m very pleased at the exceptional efforts of all of our volunteers and especially grateful to the students at Surrey’s Khalsa School, whose donations and volunteer spirit allowed us to deliver 3,500 food packages the needy in a single night,” commented Mr. Jatinder Singh, Founder of Sikhcess. Read more...Collapse )

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

9:04PM - Truth in Reporting: Sikh Organization Sues the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

The CBC, Canada's state run media, has been responsible for a number of negative portrayals of Sikhs lately, from the article on its website that closed with remarks from a random Sikh stating that his fellow worshippers would not tolerate anyone mimicking a Guru and would kill members of the Dera Saucha Sauda in Punjab, to the Samosa politics story mentioned in the piece below. I myself read a transcript of said story and found the tone highly offensive, so am not surprised to read that it allegedly fabricated some of its key assertions. I am so gratified that my fellow Sikhs are watching and will not simply allow such biased reporting to continue without remark from the sangat. Courage to the Khalsa.

Sikh organization sues CBC

Documentary ‘contained significant and numerous factual misrepresentations,’ lawsuit argues

Jul 11, 2007 03:19 PM
San Grewal
Staff Reporter
In response to what it describes as a “dishonest and highly offensive” characterization made by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, a $110 million civil lawsuit was filed yesterday on behalf of the World Sikh Organization against the national broadcaster.
The lawsuit, filed in the Ontario Superior Court in Toronto also names reporter Terry Milewski and Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh for comments they made in a June 28, 2007 feature story titled “Samosa Politics” that aired on The National.

A similar version of the story, which linked Sikh extremism to the WSO and highlighted its ties to the mainstream Canadian political scene, also aired on CBC Radio, with a print version posted on the CBC News website.

The WSO describes itself as a non-profit human rights group established in 1984 with national bodies around the world that defend not only Sikhs but the rights of all people. Representatives would not say how many members there are in Canada or worldwide.

“It is the WSO’s view that the CBC documentary contained significant and numerous factual misrepresentations about the World Sikh Organization,” said Gian Singh Sandhu, a policy advisor with the group’s Canadian body, who spoke at a press conference held yesterday in downtown Toronto.

“The WSO’s lawsuit for defamation, libel and slander arises from the airing of the documentary noted above.”

Sandhu added that the story, which he says was written about in Indian newspapers and mentioned by media in other parts of the world, has resulted in, “significant damage to the reputation of the WSO and the Sikh community.”

A CBC spokesperson said the broadcaster was not aware of the suit until it was informed about the press conference yesterday and that “if and when” the suit was received it would be given “due consideration.” Until then, the CBC will not make any comment.

A spokesperson for Mr. Dosanjh, MP for Vancouver South, said he had not been served as of 4 pm eastern time and had no comment about the suit, but stood behind his statements made in the CBC news story.

When asked what Mr. Dosanjh specifically said in the story that the WSO objected to, Mr. Sandhu said it was obvious that the MP was making a connection between the WSO and Sikh extremism.

A segment of the story included comments by Dosanjh, stating that at the Dec. 2006 Liberal leadership convention in Montreal the WSO exercised significant influence. He then states that a Sikh delegate told Dosanjh’s wife, not knowing who she was, not to vote for Bob Rae.

Dosanjh then states in the story that the delegate said Rae, in a 2005 report to the federal government, was openly critical of Sikh extremists behind the 1985 Air India bombing, and should not be supported.

As for factual errors that the WSO believes were included in Milewski’s reporting, Sandhu said after the press conference that, contrary to what appears in the news story, a man with alleged ties to convicted Air India-bomb maker Inderjit Reyat, named Daljit Singh Sandhu, was never the leader of the WSO.

Another mistake, according to Sandhu, is the CBC news story’s assertion that the WSO released a 2000 press release with the title: “Sikhs did not bomb Air India 182”, which, according to the CBC “claimed that a cargo door fell off the plane.”

“There was no such press release from the WSO,” Sandhu said.

He added that the story’s characterization of a 1984 convention at New York’s Madison Square Garden where Sikhs were videotaped calling for violence, as a WSO event is factually incorrect.

“That was not a WSO function. Mr Milewski needs to do his homework.”

(3 lions in the night | share your thoughts)

Saturday, July 7, 2007

3:59PM - Harkirat Hansra: Liberty At Stake

Sikh teenager's book seeks to explain his faith
By Blair Anthony Robertson - Bee Staff Writer
Published 12:00 am PDT Thursday, July 5, 2007
Story appeared in METRO section, Page B4

"I wanted to take away the fear of the unknown," says Mira Loma High School student Harkirat Hansra, about why he wrote a book about Sikhs.
Sacramento Bee/Florence Low


It wasn't long after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that Sikhs living in the United States realized something was terribly amiss. They had a big bull's-eye across their chests, or at least it felt that way.

Sikh men were wearing turbans -- so of course, they must be anti-American terrorists. That case of mistaken identity has been well documented and, for the most part, remedied.

But one young man in the Sacramento area didn't think it went far enough. Harkirat Hansra, a 17-year-old Mira Loma High School rising senior, wrote a book to explain who he is, what he believes and clear up the whole thing about the turbans once and for all.


His book is about Sikhs but not for them. His audience is everyone else.

Although Hansra never felt in danger, he recalls a time soon after 9/11 when someone shouted, "Terrorists, go back to Afghanistan."

For one thing, Hansra was born in San Jose and his parents came to the United States from India.

His book is called "Liberty at Stake" and is subtitled "Sikhs: The Most Visible Yet Misunderstood Minority in America." Read more...Collapse )

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Wednesday, July 4, 2007

7:37PM - Carol Hoenig in the Huffington Post =)

Waving the Flag -- Patriotism or a Guise for Commercialism?
Posted July 3, 2007 | 03:11 PM (EST)

A couple of years ago, as Independence Day was approaching, I looked out my window to discover an American flag attached to a 12-inch stake planted on my front lawn. On further investigation, I saw that someone had lined everyone's lawn on my street with identical plastic flags. Even though it was close to being the Fourth of July, the sight didn't stir any patriotism in me. Just like it hadn't stirred any patriotism in me when that American soldier climbed the statue of Saddam Hussein a number of years ago and draped the symbolic stars and stripes from the dictator's likeness. I recall shouting at my television: "Take that down!" I didn't need a commentator to tell me that the soldier's act was misguided and could easily be misconstrued by the Iraqis, as well as the entire world. For me, not only did I realize why it had been a hasty, careless act, but I could also explain why.

The flag stands for many things to many different people. There are even some who feel that it is an abomination to pledge allegiance to the piece of cloth, instead wanting to save that kind of fealty for their god. Therefore, to place the emblematic banner on people's properties without permission may be deemed as misplaced pride. So, before pouring my morning cup of coffee, I went outside with the intention of removing the flag from the front of my house. It was then on closer inspection that I discovered a business card taped to the stake -- not only a business card promoting an insurance company, but one with a photograph of a smiling agent promising he could meet my insurance needs. Without a second thought, I took the card and tore it up, tossing it in the garbage. On hindsight, it was a hasty thing to do. Instead, I should have called the number on the card and made a formal complaint.

I understand that the flag represents a variety of ideals: Wars fought, the right to vote, and freedom to worship. Or not. But sometimes the flag that is revered often represents arrogance, a belief that we as a country deserve to be lionized. However, just as I was ready to toss the stake with the attached plastic symbol, I noticed my elderly neighbor across the street carefully straightening his cloth flag positioned near his front door. His eyesight was so poor, I'm not sure he saw the small plastic version on his front lawn.

Every day, weather permitting, I saw this gentleman take his wife for a slow stroll around the block. With his hand firmly grasping hers, he took the lead, since she had little idea where she was going due to Alzheimer's. I don't know if he fought in any wars or lost any loved ones in a war, but the way he handled his flag, I thought it was a strong possibility; therefore, it was for him that I placed the pathetic plastic flag back into the ground instead of tossing it. My change of heart certainly wasn't for any insurance company using the symbol as a marketing tool. Had this company placed flags on lawns, minus the business card, it would have been a quiet symbol of subtle pride celebrating independence, especially for those like my neighbor.

Sometimes, though, besides commercialism, people elevate the red, white and blue above reason. One example of this is happening in Lodi, where a Sikh temple has a Sikh insignia banner flying, as was reported in Recordnet.com.

"And that irritates Dennis Regan, a 63-year-old Air Force veteran who lives less than a mile east of the new temple. If the Sikh worship hall is going to fly its religious emblem over the neighborhood, he said, it should hoist an American flag even higher."
I cannot help but wonder if it weren't a Sikh temple would Regan be so annoyed.
Read more...Collapse )

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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

7:05PM - For Sikhs, reaching out is no easy task

By Victoria Cheng, Globe Correspondent | June 24, 2007

The weather was warm and the chilled drinks were free, but some people in Somerville's Union Square still weren't buying.

Members of a local Sikh temple -- the women in vibrant tunics and some of the men in turbans -- had spread across the square last weekend to give away soft drinks and water to passersby and carloads of people stuck in construction traffic.

The responses ranged from a quick "No, thanks" to a skeptical "Nothing's free," and, most frequently, a curious "Free? But why?"

The drinks are distributed to commemorate the death of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, a Sikh spiritual teacher from the 17th century, said Satvir Kaur, who teaches Punjabi classes at the Sikh Sangat Society Boston temple in Somerville. "It's also a way to give back to the community and to raise awareness about the Sikh faith," she said.

Sikhs have been reaching out to Greater Boston for several years. But the puzzled reactions last weekend showed that many of their neighbors are still not acquainted with the religion.

Sikhism, which began some 500 years ago in the Punjabi region of what is now India and Pakistan, was founded on three main tenets of egalitarianism, religious pluralism, and social justice. Read more...Collapse )

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

5:37PM - A Smile For Today =)

http://www.ratemyturban.com/

I love the little kids in their turbans! Its so cute.. it makes up for the guy in the fluorescent pink turban and the bright yellow tie who has numbed my brain ..

**xposted to desixtc**

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Monday, June 18, 2007

10:43PM - Sikhs Challenge French Ban on Turbans in EU's Highest Court

On 11th June 2007, UNITED SIKHS lawyers will file a legal challenge to the French law banning the wearing of the turban on ID document photos. The case, before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, will be the first such case against France since it passed a law in March 2004 banning the wearing of religious symbols, including the Sikh turban, in public schools.

The applicant, Shingara Mann Singh, is a 52 year old Sikh from the northern Paris suburbs, whose replacement driver's licence was refused by the French authorities in 2005 and again in 2006. France's highest administrative court, the Conseil D'Etat, has ruled that public security justifies a law which requires Sikhs to remove their turbans to be photographed for driver's licences. UNITED SIKHS will also apply to the ECHR for permission to intervene in the case, on behalf of the wider Sikh community and in support of the freedom of thought conscience and religion.

The turban has not only been banned for ID photographs. Since the passing of the controversial French law banning religious symbols in 2004, including the Sikh turban, in public educational establishments, six French Sikh schoolboys have been expelled from school. UNITED SIKHS lawyers are due to appear in the Conseil D'Etat to defend the right of three of the boys to wear the turban in school. If the Conseil D'Etat rules against them, the cases will be appealed to the ECHR and the United Nations Human Rights Committee in New York.

“It is necessary to take these cases to the international courts as if left unchecked the French law, which undermines the freedom for thought conscience and religion, will have a domino effect on this freedom globally,” said Mejindarpal Kaur, UNITED SIKHS director for International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy.

Sikhs are required by religion to wear their hair unshorn and covered at all times by a turban, an article of faith and an intrinsic aspect of the Sikh identity.

To know more about Sikhs and the Right to Turban campaign please visit

http://www.unitedsikhs.org/rtt/french_press_room/

http://www.unitedsikhs.org/rtt/

UNITED SIKHS and MEP Neena Gill will host a press conference in Brussels to highlight the appeal.

Venue:

Media should use the press entrance in the Spaak Building:

Room P0150,
Paul Henry Spaak building
European Parliament
Batiment Altiero Spinelli
60 Rue Wiertz
Brussels
B-1047

Time: 1.30pm Monday 11 June 2007

For more information please contact:

UNITED SIKHS: Mejindarpal Kaur t: +44(0)7709830 442

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10:36PM - Sikhs in the Street: Walking Out In El Sobrante

Floats festooned with flowers rolled through the streets of El Sobrante on Sunday as 8,000 Sikhs from the Bay Area and beyond celebrated an annual holiday that extols interfaith harmony.

The "spiritual peace march" began at the Sikh Center of the San Francisco Bay Area, where tour buses brought worshippers from Stockton, Sacramento and Yuba City.

Nagar Kirtan has its roots in a traditional event commemorating the martyrdom of Sri Guru Arjan Dev Sahib Ji, who was tortured to death by India's Mogul rulers 401 years ago.

The holy book Ji contains hymns sacred to religions and castes throughout India. The holiday's name literally means the singing of spiritual songs.

The more than 500-year-old Sikh faith began in the Punjab region of India. Today, adherents number nearly 23 million worldwide. Estimates in the United States range from 190,000 to 440,000.

Sikhs hold that all religions serve God and share a vision of love and peace.

This is the second year the Sikh Center has made a community party of the holiday. The public ceremony serves to educate Americans, who have been known to confuse Sikhs with members of the Taliban.

"America has gone from a Christian country to the most diverse nation in the world," said J.P. Singh, president of the temple, or gurdwara. "The education hasn't kept up."

Last year, Christian fundamentalists showed up to leaflet their disapproval of both the march and the faith.

This year, a center
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delegation invited the faithful of other denominations to join it at Sunday's event in a show of harmony and mutual respect, Singh said.

"We got a very warm welcome from the Mormons," Singh said. "They sent us a very warm e-mail."

Methodists also extended their hands, he said.

Early Sunday, Sikh women in colorful shawls and men dressed in white sprayed the streets, then swept them clean to make way for the parade and its performers. Long ribbons of flowers swung from the main float, which carried the holy book.

A group of boys and girls from the Fremont gurdwara performed a precision Gatka martial arts routine that involved lots of leaping, spinning and split-second landings on deeply bent knees while tossing a lasso-style rope wheel from one to the other.

Members of the Fremont temple drove a replica of the Golden Temple in Punjab. Some parade watchers clasped their hands or bowed slightly as the procession passed by.

Earlier in the day, Graciela Lechon of El Sobrante drove to the hilltop center to inquire about the festivities.

"The people were just so lovely and welcoming," she said. "I thought, what a wonderful opportunity to bring our communities together."

But as the procession moved downhill, a man inside a Jehovah's Witness Kingdom Hall turned away. The congregation had refused to accept printed invitations to the event, Singh said.

Regardless of the reception, believers say the story of Sri Guru Arjan Dev Sahib Ji bears some likeness to other faiths.

"Arjun Dev Ji sacrificed for the nation," said Baljeet Sidhu, who came to this country two years ago. "He was placed on burning fire. Hot sand was put on his head. He was so peaceful he never cried."

Posters on the floats spelled out Sikh virtues or quoted the Fifth Guru.

"No one is my enemy, nor is anyone a stranger to me," read one.

Another listed prized social values: democracy, fortitude, freedom, liberty, status of women and egalitarianism.

Ten-year-old Harkiran Chahal's family drove from Rockland for the festivities.
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Sunday, June 17, 2007

10:56AM - Fix Sikhs!!

You know, I have wanted to join this community for the past five years and haven't done so up until now because I can't read it properly. The text cuts off at the right hand side of the page and renders a good quarter of each post illegible. Whoever designed this should fix it- it really is a disaster. Sorry for being so blunt, but I suspect it is why this community is so quiet.. I would have been posting voraciously if it were not for this problem.

(4 lions in the night | share your thoughts)

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