Monday, March 20, 2017

Delaware declares April as Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month

Delaware Gov. John Carney, fourth from right front, and members of the state's Indian/American community.
DELAWARE's State Assembly’s two chambers unanimously passed a resolution declaring April “Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month,” reports Tribune India

State Governor John Carney welcomed the notion; he recently met with and pledged help to the Indian/American community, which he noted has been suffering from an outbreak of hate crime incidents. Sikhs from the Indian/American community have especially been victimized.

“We have fear mongering going on at the national level, and stereotyping…and all of that,” Carney told an Indian/American delegation, led by local businessman and community leader Charanjeet Singh Minhas. “It is an embarrassment on America as a country.” Carney called such acts “completely unacceptable.”

The resolution points out the contributions that the Sikh American community has made to the state of Delaware The Sikh American community in Delaware has led and participated in many interfaith and charitable endeavors benefiting all Delawareans, with a particular emphasis on helping homeless populations and others in need,” the resolution states. 

“Delaware’s Sikh community has always been involved in efforts aiming to enhance understanding and respect among people of different religions by leading and participating in interfaith thanksgiving prayers at various places of worship, inviting various faith leaders and members of their congregations to Sikh temples (Gurdwaras), and going to places of worship of other faiths and denominations to share prayers and services and educate each other about respective faiths, history, traditions, scriptures, and underlying beliefs and values.”

Sen. Bryan Townsend introduced the resolution in the State Senate, as an expression of Delaware’s efforts to stand with the Sikh community in denouncing hate crimes of religious intolerance. Rep. Paul Baumbach moved the resolution in the House.

“Since September 11, 2001, the Sikhs are often mistaken for Taliban or followers of Al Qaida, owing to the commonality of their beards and turbans, and subjected to a disproportionately high rate of hate crimes, and Sikh boys suffer bullying at twice the national bullying rate for other boys,” the resolution continues to read. “The Sikh American community continues to peacefully overcome attacks on its identity and practices, whether in the form of school harassment, employment discrimination, or fatal shootings, including the murders of 6 Sikhs during the Oak Creek, Wisconsin Sikh Gurdwara shooting on August 5, 2012, and the shooting of a Sikh man that occurred in Kent, Washington on March 3, 2017, in addition to over 30 other hate crimes that have occurred nationwide since the September 11 attacks.”

Minhas noted Delaware’s strong lead in showing solidarity with Sikh/Americans, compared to states like California, New York, and New Jersey, which have much larger Sikh communities vulnerable to hate crime incidents.

“It’s a landmark day for the Indian/Americans and the Sikh community especially here in Delaware,” said Minhas. “With so much of hatred that is prevailing in the nation what the Delaware Assembly has done is very significant.”

“The faithful service of the Sikh American community to Delaware and the United States merits appreciation as an integral thread in the fabric of American plurality,” the resolution concludes. “The month of April 2017 is proclaimed ‘Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month’ in the State of Delaware.”