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Mistaken Turban: Do Not Relate Turban with Terrorism

Balbir Singh was murdered in Mesa, Arizona and six Sikhs shot dead at Sikh Temple in Wisconsin just because of their appearance.

Many people mistake Sikhs as Muslims due to their turban. If you see a man or a woman walking down on American streets wearing a turban, he or she will most likely be a Sikh, a follower of a monotheistic religion known as Sikhism, which originated from Punjab, India. Sikhs do not cut their hair and live the way God made us. In addition, Sikhs proudly wear the turban as part of their religious and cultural heritage. Sikhs are neither Arab nor Muslim.

After 9/11, the lives of Sikhs have been severely restricted. Not only by the terrorist that attacked the United States but also by their own American friends who look at Sikhs wearing turbans as Arabs or Muslims. People base their judgments just on the looks. Sikhs differ from Arabs in many aspects. While Arab is a term for people from a certain region, Sikhs are member of a religion called Sikhism. Sikhs live in different region and country than Arabs; have different religion, culture, food, and language than Arabs. Even though Sikhs are very different from Arabs and Muslims on many aspects, Sikhs condemn hate crime against Arabs and Muslims as well. Every individual is unique. An individual should not be blamed because of the bad actions of some people belonging to that religion. Get to know the individual, he might be the nicest person you have ever met.

Sikhs living in America and all over the world grieve with America. Like many, Sikhs have lost friends, loved ones and colleagues in 9/11 attack. Sikhs unequivocally condemn the terrorist attack on America. In addition, Sikhs continue to donate blood, food, and money, and participate in memorial services. At the WTC, a Sikh doctor was the first on the scene helping to save lives.

Dr. Navinderdeep Singh, a fourth year resident set up the first medical help center at ground zero, just in front of the collapsed towers. Dr Navinderdeep Singh stayed until 2 a.m., treating mostly injured firefighters who had been pulled from the rubble. Many of you call people like him, an American Hero. The next day, Thursday, Dr. Navinderdeep Singh went out to run some errands near his apartment in midtown Manhattan; "Every person was staring at me," he says, "People were saying 'There goes one of them now.' Someone yelled 'Go back to your own country!'" Is this how we treat our Heroes in America?

The number of incidents of hate and discrimination against Sikhs in the US after 9/11 has increased significantly, with over 300 such cases reported so far, ranging from verbal harassment, physical attacks to even murder. A Sikh man, Avtar Singh was shot and wounded in Phoenix, Arizona and Balbir Singh was murdered in Mesa, Arizona just because they were wearing a turban.

Furthermore, a 51-year-old Sikh woman, Swaran Kaur, was stabbed twice in the head by two men who threatened to kill her. Swaran said she was attacked Sunday as she sat in her car on Mirmar Road in San Diego. Two men pulled next to her on a motorcycle, opened her door and allegedly yelled, "This is what you get for what you've done to us." One of the men also allegedly said, "I'm going to slash your throat." Swaran said she tried to protect herself but she was stabbed twice in the head. The men fled after hearing a car approach. No arrests were made.

In addition, on Mar 14, 2004 the Fresno Gurdwara (Sikh place of worship) was vandalized. The vandals-- spray-painted racist graffiti on the walls of Gurdwara Sahib. "It's not your country," brayed one crude slogan. But it most certainly is. The 30,000 Sikhs who live in this part of the Fresno County are farmers, business owners, doctors and professionals. Many were born here is this not their country? Others have been in the United States for many years, working hard, raising families, paying taxes, contributing to the community and obeying the law. The only difference appears to be how Sikhs look, and ignorance of the turban. The heartless attack of 9/11 was an attack not just on America, but an attack on humanity. Humanity has been battered not only because of what these terrorists do, but also as a result of hate crime against Sikhs and others. Such crime is of serious magnitude when hard-working, law-abiding people are beaten, harassed and sometimes murdered just because of the way they look. 

Another tragedy struck the Sikh community on Aug 5, 2012 when an armed gunman opened fire in the Gurdwara Sahib killing 6 Sikhs. The priests had gathered in the lobby of the sprawling Sikh temple here in Milwaukee, and lunch was being prepared as congregants were arriving for Sunday services. Instead of worshipers, though, an armed man stepped through the door and started firing. The gunman’s rampage ended when one of the first police officers to arrive shot and killed him. More info: NYTimes - CNN

Sikhs are peace loving and kind human beings. Sikhism is a religion dedicated to pure love towards God. Sikhs truly believe in One Almighty God and adore Him from deep inside their hearts. In Sikhism all human races are considered equal. In addition, women have equal status and equal rights. Sikhs always stand up for the truth and help the needy and the weak. Sikhs contribute to their community in every way possible. Conducting violence against Sikhs is totally unjustified and wrong.


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