Amrith Kaur Mago
I would like to make it clear that Sikh victims of hate crimes in the past week are victims of ignorant terrorism, just as the people in the World Trade Center and Pentagon were. The general public needs to be aware that Sikhism is its own independent, sovereign religion, and is the 5th largest in the world--with over half a million followers in the United States alone. It is a faith that respects all other faiths, and focuses on the equality of all people.
Right now, there have been over 72 attacks throughout the U.S., and one man has been killed. Men have been harassed because they wear a turban and long beard--symbols of our faith for over 300 years--and our followers are afraid to leave their houses. A Gurudwara in Cleveland was torched and stoned, as were Sikh owned businesses and homes. The time has come to educate the public on what Sikhism is, and let these people know that we are just as much a part of America as anyone. This is a country of immigrants--people who migrated here in the hopes of securing a better future for their children, and who believed they were coming to a greater country, where all religions and religious beliefs would be tolerated. The fact that we have to defend our existence in this country is a true test, but it is definitely one that we pass. We need to mobilize ourselves and join forces with people of all races to get the word out that these violent attacks that result in injury, humiliation, and even death, are wrong, and the perpetrators must be brought to justice and made aware of the hypocrisy in their actions.
Just as Article 5 of the U.N. Charter decrees "any attack from abroad by anyone against any member of the alliance is an attack against the entire alliance," we need to make it clear that any attack against any individual of the United States is an attack against the entire country. It is time to build a coalition fighting ignorance, and education is key. We cannot tolerate anymore hate-crimes; we must make people recognize that if we are going to move forward, we have to be united as a country.
I have a younger brother who wears a turban. Although he has not been victimized as of yet, he had to be escorted by our town's police officer while collecting money for a fundraiser for his high school. It really saddens me that in the same community we grew up, in the same community we have lived our entire lives, it has resorted to this. This is an issue that is not relegated to one group, as the Jews and Japanese have found out through out the years. It is something that must be abolished--ignorance must be abolished and awareness must be increased--in order for the United States to ever truly move forward.
Please join our coalition in educating America, because any support we have is another person who respects the values and freedom this country stands for.