Efforts for establishing Sikh identity in America

  • Harvinder Kaur, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Apr 02, 2015 23:30 IST

Post 9/11 many Sikhs in the US became victims of hate crimes and things haven’t changed much. Recently, a video got viral on internet in which a young Sikh boy was being bullied by his schoolmates. The incident was condemned by various Sikh organisations in India and abroad, and they even urged the authorities to create awareness about the Sikh community among the masses.

One such man who has been working relentlessly in creating awareness among the Americans about Sikhs and Sikhism through his organisation “Global Sikh Alliance” is Phoenix-based Rana Sodhi. Sodhi’s brother, Balbir Singh Sodhi, became one of the first victims of hate crime against immigrants post the World Trade Centre attack and was murdered outside his Mega gas station under a mistaken identity.

“Post 9/11, our community became the victim of mass hate. We were considered terrorists because of our turban and beard. There are countless stories of Sikh Americans being threatened, beaten, insulted and even killed. Even our places of worship were vandalized. Now people with similar stories share a similar dream -- a dream of making this country (USA) a place without prejudice and hate-based violence,” said Sodhi, adding “Like me there are many other people who have been actively working in this regard.”

According to Sodhi, their campaign was not only helping people in spreading awareness, but also in educating them about the roots of Sikh religion. “One of the campaign’s goals is to highlight the Sikh community’s role in American society. I personally visit so many high schools, community colleges, churches and various community organisations. People really appreciate us for what we are doing,” Sodhi said, adding, “Another major goal for us is to create an environment in which Sikhs don’t have to hide their articles of faith.”

When asked if he was expecting support from Punjabi Sikhs, Sodhi said, “Our campaign is to reach out to citizens and creating awareness through our media campaign. We do depend on contributions and donations from the Sikh community to fund this project. To create a movement, we hope that not only Punjabi Sikhs, but other individuals also contribute in it.”

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