Concerned over the spurt in incidents of hate crime against Sikhs settled in the United States (US), the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has shot off two separate but identical letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama to express concern over the safety of the Sikh community in the US.
“We are deeply concerned over the recent cases of hate crime against Sikhs. No doubt these all are cases of mistaken identity, but these just cannot be brushed aside as it concerns the safety of the Sikhs and their places of worship,” SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar stated in the letters, which were also released to the media in Amritsar on Friday. The copies of the letters have also been sent to Richard R Verma, the US Ambassador to India.
While referring to the 9/11 terror strikes, the letters said since then Sikhs in the US have been mistaken as Muslims and sympathizers of terrorist groups mainly due to the turban they wear and the long flowing beard that many of the Sikhs keep. “Sikhs have begun to feel unsafe in public places and while travelling across the United States,” the letters added.
The letters made a reference to the incidents involving Sikhs. These include the firing outside a gurdwara in Oak Creek in the state of Wisconsin in which six persons were killed, the beating up of an elderly Sikh near New York last year and the manner in which a gurdwara was vandalised near Los Angeles (LA) with anti-ISIS graffiti recently. The firing in Michigan in which a store keeper was injured was also mentioned in the letters as were many other incidents that happened over the last few years.
The letters also made a mention of the 39-second video in which an elderly Sikh man travelling in a plane was described as a terrorist. Posted online the video has been drawing a number of comments from viewers.
In the letters, Makkar stressed that Sikhs were a peace loving community that respected all religions. “Sikhs have contributed immensely to the development of the US,” the letter stated.