Feb 10

Sikh actor Waris Ahluwalia: Education must follow apology over turban incident

Sikh actor Waris Ahluwalia: ‘This is about education’ 05:05

Story highlights

  • Airline offers apology to Waris Ahluwalia over botched security screening
  • He says Aeromexico wouldn’t let him board a flight because of his turban
  • The designer and actor had roles in “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Inside Man”
 (CNN)Waris Ahluwalia may make it back to New York in time for Fashion Week after all.

Two days after Aeromexico kicked the Indian-American actor and designer off a flight after he refused to remove his turban during a security screening, the airline and the Sikh celebrity appear to have reached an agreement.

Ahluwalia has accepted an apology from the airline, and Aeromexico has pledged to improve its training for how to screen passengers with religious headwear, the Sikh Coalition said.

That means Ahluwalia, who’d been staying in Mexico City until his demands over the situation had been met, will be heading back to New York on a flight Wednesday, according to the coalition, which is representing Ahluwalia.

Ahluwalia said Aeromexico staff and security screeners told him Monday to buy a ticket on a different airline after he refused to remove the turban he wears as part of his faith.

Aeromexico offered an apology Tuesday, saying it “recognizes and is proud of the diversity of its passengers.”

“We apologize to Mr. Waris Ahluwalia for the bad experience he went through with one of our security personnel,” Aeromexico said in a statement.

The airline said it works to maintain strong security measures while respecting its passengers’ cultures and beliefs.

But Ahluwalia said those who wear turbans shouldn’t face discrimination. Travelers should be taken into a private area if they’re asked to remove their turban, he said, as required by the policy of the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

Aeromexico’s apology “is a brilliant first step” but “there is a lack of understanding,” Ahluwalia told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.

He thanked the airline for its apology, but called the gesture “past-looking” and that he wants to talk about “steps in the future.”

The actor had said he would remain in Mexico until there was dialogue with Aeromexico bosses about training their staff.

“Really, this is about education, about education of the Sikh religion, but also of other religions, and this is not just about me or Sikhs,” he said.

Aeromexico has “issued a directive to its staff regarding the religious significance of the Sikh turban,” the Sikh Coalition tweeted Tuesday night.

The airline plans to make a formal request to the TSA and the Mexican government to implement religious and diversity sensitivity training, according to the coalition.

“I was upset, I had anxiety, I was shaking, I did not speak,” Ahluwalia told CNN. “And then I realized, clearly, they have not been trained properly. I knew yelling will not do anything. It is about education and the policy.”

And so, days after he posted about fresh papayas and famed artist Frida Kahlo, Ahluwalia started sharing photos about his security screening.

Ahluwalia — whose acting career has included roles in “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” “The Darjeeling Limited” and “Inside Man” — drew attention to his plight on social media, posting a photo of what he said was his canceled plane ticket.

The Sikh turban: At once personal and extremely public

Sikh men have worn turbans since 1699 when the last living guru bestowed a unique Sikh identity based on five articles of faith. Among them were a steel bracelet signifying a reality with no beginning or end, a sword representing resolve and justice, and unshorn hair as a gift of God and a declaration of humility.

Some Sikh men don’t wear turbans and beards; others say they stopped after being mistaken for Muslims and being targeted after 9/11.

Losing the Turban: Indian Sikhs at odds on essentials

‘We have to be vigilant’

Ahluwalia said he has had brushes with bigotry before. In 2013, a Gap holiday ad with him drew widespread attention after someone defaced it in a New York subway station.

“Make Love” was crossed out to read “Make Bombs.” Beneath that, someone scrawled, “Please stop driving TAXIS.”

The company was quick to replace the ad and double down on its campaign, making the photo its background image on Twitter and Facebook and releasing a statement saying Gap “is a brand that celebrates inclusion and diversity.”

A 2013 Gap ad with Ahluwalia was defaced at a New York subway station.

That “was a great example for corporate responsibility,” Ahluwalia said, “but this is the exact opposite of that.”

“I didn’t ask to be a public face or voice of a religion. Sikhs have been in (the United States) for over 125 years,” he said. “I just want to make and create art.”

But Ahluwalia said he knew he needed to take a stand.

“I’m not sitting here angry at Aeromexico. Everyone makes mistakes. I’ve made mistakes,” he said. “But what makes us different is how we collect and respond and react to the mistakes we make. They did not know. I cannot blame them for that, but ignorance and fear is the flag humans carry, and we have to be vigilant to fight that.”

Jan 27

As he was being ejected, Trump said: ‘He wasn’t wearing one of those hats, was he? Was he wearing one of those things?

EXCLUSIVE: ‘If Donald Trump thought I was a Muslim, I’d be proud’ – turban-wearing Sikh who interrupted rally says he wanted to challenge candidate’s ‘old man mutterings’

  • Donald Trump called out a man wearing a turban protesting at his campaign rally in Iowa Sunday while he was being ejected
  • Today Arish Singh, 35, of Iowa City, tells Daily Mail Online he was the protester and speaks of pride at ‘civil disobedience’ 
  • As he was being ejected, Trump said: ‘He wasn’t wearing one of those hats, was he? Was he wearing one of those things?’
  • Singh says he is proud if his turban – a sign of his Sikh faith –  caused him to be confused with Muslims and added: ‘I will be back at his next rally.’

The protester wearing the red turban (above) was removed by security after interrupting Trump with another protester

A Sikh protester who was manhandled out of a Donald Trump rally today hit back at the Republican presidential candidate branding him as ‘childish’.
Arish Singh, who wears a red turban,was ejected from Trump’s rally in Muscatine, Iowa yesterday after unfurling a banner saying ‘Stop Hate’.
Trump interrupted his address to the rally as Singh, 35, was ejected along with his friend Taylor Williams as the crowd repeatedly chanted ‘ USA, USA’.
Trump watched from the platform as Singh was jeered and forced out by security officials and told his audience: ‘He wasn’t wearing one of those hats was he? And he never will, and that’s okay because we got to do something folks because it’s not working.’
Minutes after the flare up, Trump went onto talk about terrorist attacks in Paris and California and referred to ‘hats’ several times.
It was unclear whether it was a reference to Singh’s turban but there was outrage on Twitter that such a link could be made.
Today Singh, a writer and comedian from Iowa City, Iowa, said he was unsure whether Trump had confused his turban for an Islamic headdress.
Speaking exclusively to Daily Mail Online he said: ‘I am not sure what he meant when he used the word “hat”.
‘But if he thought I was a Muslim, I would not have a problem with that because we all have to stand with the Muslims and reject the hate that is being directed towards them.
‘How can anybody stand up and say Muslims should be banned from this country?’
He admitted he had interrupted Trump’s address and his behavior had provoked Trump supporters.
The two protesters hold a sign that reads ‘Stop hate’ after interrupting Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during his speech at Muscatine High School
The protester wearing the red turban (above) was removed by security after interrupting Trump with another protester
The Republican presidential candidate’s rally in Muscatine, Iowa was interrupted by a group of protesters on Sunday
Speaking out: Comedian Arish Singh, whose act includes a satire aimed at Jeff Dunham, with a dummy who is a white terrorist
But he added: ‘This country has a history of civil disobedience and I am proud of that.
‘I want to speak out against hate and I will be back at his rally in Iowa on Tuesday.
‘Trump comes across as childish and sometimes he just mutters like an old man who has no control of what he is saying.
‘But he is in an important position because he is saying stuff from the position of a billionaire and the media is not challenging him.
‘He is getting the publicity, but I believe he is trying to make up for his failings earlier in his life and he just speaks a lot without thinking first.’
Singh said he was moved to carry out his personal protest because he believed Trump had been attracting support from white supremacists.
He repeated claims which have surfaced of robocalls being made by white supremacist groups urging support for Trump and said he wanted to see the Republican frontrunner disavow such support.
‘I know that through robo calling, these white supremacists are showing their support for him and saying things like “America needs to be free of Muslims”.
‘Trump should speak out against White supremacists and say he doesn’t want their support. He should not allow them to support him and distance himself.
‘I did shout “why do you give shelter to white supremacists and why do we have white supremacists robocalling in Iowa?”
‘Since 9/11 attacks on Muslims as well as Sikhs who have been wrongly identified as Muslims have increased.
Speaking to the two protesters being removed, the billionaire businessman said: ‘Bye. Bye. Goodbye’
Once the man wearing the turban and another protester were escorted out by security, video of the rally shows the audience erupting with loud applause, cheers and chants of ‘USA! USA! USA!’
‘Those people who cannot tell the difference between a Muslim and a Sikh should be embarrassed of themselves.
‘But I stand with the Muslims and I will always do what I can to stop the hating.’

Men and women who have been initiated into the Sikh faith are known as the Khasla – and the turban is the most visible sign.
In order to become a Sikh and join the Khalsa, people need to follow the Five Ks:
Kesh: uncut hair as a mark of holiness and submission to God’s will. Wearing a turban is a
Kangha: a small wooden comb in the hair as a sign of cleanliness
Kara: a steel bracelet, a reminder that they are connected to God
Kachhera: short cotton underwear, more practical for daily life than the traditional dhoti worn in India
Kirpaan: a sword, for protection.
At puberty an initiation ceremony called the Dastaar Bandi (wearing of the first turban) takes place and young Sikhs are allowed to join the Khalsa.
He said it was part of the Sikh tradition to stand up to injustice, adding: ‘We have to end all hate. We must not let it grow in America or anywhere.’
Singh uses his comedy act for political satire, including an attack on the comedian Jeff Dunham.
Dunham has angered some Sikhs by using a turban-wearing dummy who is supposed to be ‘Achmed the dead terrorist’, a hapless dead suicide bomber.
Singh added: ‘Dunham is a ventriloquist and stand up who has made an obscene amount of money using puppets to make bases stereotypes by packaging it as “family friendly” fare.
‘His “terrorist” puppet Achmed is supposed to be satirizing jihads but really just makes ethnic jokes about Muslims.
‘I’m all for real satire of jihadis. I loved the Four Lions film, but this is just getting applause for affirming and parading around stereotypes and dehumanizing caricatures.
‘There is no connection to Trump in particular here (in the puppet act) other than that both he and Dunham do this dog-whistling to affirm their audience’s prejudices.’
At the time of Singh’s protest, Trump was speaking about the September 11 terror attacks and the San Bernardino shooting.
‘We have radical Islamic terror going on all over the place, all over the world, and we have a president that won’t say it,’ the GOP front-runner said.
‘When planes fly into the World Trade Center, and into the Pentagon, and wherever the third plane was going.
‘When people are shooting their friends in California, when they’re shooting their friends …’
Trump abruptly stopped speaking as Singh stood up to reveal a sign reading ‘Stop Hate’.
The crowd then erupted in chants of ‘Trump! Trump! Trump!’ and grew louder.
Prior to his campaign event’s start, an announcement has been read in the last few months telling his supporters to ‘not harm a protester’ but instead chant ‘Trump, Trump, Trump.’
According to ABC News, the chants alert security that a protester is in the audience.
Next Monday voters will head to the polls as many of the presidential candidates have spent time campaigning in the Hawkeye state.
His chief challenger in the Republican race is Ted Cruz.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3416344/If-Donald-Trump-thought-Muslim-d-proud-turban-wearing-Sikh-interrupted-rally-says-wanted-challenge-candidate-s-old-man-mutterings.html#ixzz3yRNbkaEN

Dec 22


The Most Generous Religion Sikh by dailysikhupdates

It preaches help for the poor and loving thy neighbour but now a new study has provided evidence that religion can make people more generous in their everyday lives.
Research commissioned by the BBC found that people who profess a religious belief are significantly more likely to give to charity than non-believers.
Sikhs and Jews emerged as the most likely to share their worldly goods with a good cause, just ahead of Christians, Hindus and Muslims.
The study, carried out for the BBC’s network of local radio stations, included polling by ComRes of a sample of more than 3,000 people of all faiths and none.
It found that levels of generosity across the British public are strikingly high, but highest among those with a religious faith.

Dec 21


It was 1984, and the Indian Army must have known it was in for a big bloody mess to get the temple back, especially since its upper ranks are filled mostly with Sikh generals, Sikhs being the designated hitters of the Indian war game. But Indira Gandhi was PM, and she was a lady who didn’t like being disobeyed, so she ordered her Sikh Commanding General to overrun the temple.

Mistake. The Sikh CO inside the temple was a dude named Shahbeg Singh, who pretty much single-handedly engineered the collapse of the Pakistani Army in the 1971 Indo-Pak War. It was Shahbeg who organized the Mukhti Bahini, the Bangladeshi guerrillas who made history by being the first Bengali armed force in history not to pee in their dhotis and flee at the sound of gunfire. In fact, this Sikh must’ve given the Bengalis some kind of Sikh blood transfusion because they fought well enough to make the West Pak garrisons surrender en masse even before Indian troops crossed the Bengal border. After that it was the end of history for East Bengal, except for a bunch of whiney George Harrison begging chanteys, and a tidal wave or two.

Well, this same Shahbeg arranged the defense of the Golden Temple so well that at the end of a seven-day battle with the Indian Army’s best units, his 200-odd amateur militants had inflicted 83 KIA on the army and even managed to blast the first tank to enter the compound. They paid a price, naturally – at least 500 Sikh dead. But Sikhs — well, if there’s one thing you can say about ‘em, it’s that they’re willing to pay any price.

And they make the enemy pay, too. Less than five months after Indira Gandhi ordered the attack on the Temple, she was strolling into her garden to be interviewed by that fat old Brit with the Russian name, Peter Ustinov, when the Sikhs got their revenge. It must have been a pretty scene, the fat man sweating in the Delhi heat, Indira swirling up in her best sari — when BOOM! Two of her bodyguards, who were Sikhs, naturally, opened fire on her with machine guns, turning her into human chutney. She died before the sweat dried on Ustinov’s chins. And then, just to add to Ustinov’s fun, her other non-Sikh bodyguards started blasting at the Sikh shooters, killing one and wounding another.

Shortest — and loudest — interview the old battle-ax ever gave. Last, too.

That was the Sikh revenge for “Operation Bluestar,” the temple raid. By the way, that’s another of these lame ops titles they keep coming up with. Should’ve called it “Operation Blowback,” or “Operation Indira, Are You Sure?”

For the Sikhs, this was just like Chapter Two Million in a long and glorious series of battles, assassinations and massacres. The Sikhs were born in the Punjab, the coolest part of India. Every conqueror in history headed that way as soon as he got his learner’s license at 15. Punjab was the last, and the toughest place Alexander himself ever tried to take. He was so impressed with the army of Pontus, as they called it then, that he said every Punjabi deserved to be called Alexander. Which was high praise, since Alex was never known for modesty.

Before him even those lazy necrophiliac Egyptians had a stab at the Punjab. I couldn’t believe it when I read it, but apparently those Nile-side loungers had the energy to attack the Punjab. Everybody had a turn, though it was the Persians and the Afghans who turned invading the Punjab from a healthy, occasional fun evening into an unhealthy obsession.

And that was before Islam was added to the subcontinental mix. By the time Sikhism started, about 400 years ago, the Mughal emperors, basically a bunch of land pirates who swooped down out of Afghanistan to plunder the plains, had tried to convert India to Islam by using the time-honored method of appealing to the prospect’s common sense: “Convert or we’ll hack you into a million tiny pieces.” The Hindu majority, under the thumbs of hundreds of feudal kings, tried to weasel out of conversion so they could hang on to their own homegrown miseries, like the caste system. The Hindus’ ultimate weapon was simple inertia and birthrate. The Afghans’ sword arms just got tired after a while, hacking in that heat, and they said, “Aw, the Hell with it.” Northern India settled into a lazy routine with the occasional massacre, a lot of bribery, nasty little village snobs hating each other.

Then along comes the founder of Sikhism, Nanak, and says, “There is no Muslim, there is no Hindu.” Meaning the Hell with both of you. Sikhs were radicals from the start. All the little traditions people know about them started out as in-your-face rebel yells in the Punjab. Like those beards: only the Mughal were allowed to wear long hair and beards. So the Sikh all let theirs grow longer than John and Yoko’s. That name, “Singh,” every Sikh guy has? It means “Lion” but the real point is that it replaced all the caste names they had before. Like Malcolm making his last name “X.”

The Sikhs’ real weapon was the flintlock. A grumbly Muslim Afghan wrote that “these dogs [the Sikhs] invented the musket, and nobody knows these weapons better. These bad-tempered people discharge hundreds of bullets on the enemy, on the left and right and back.” Aww, poor little Afghan! Those pesky bad-tempered Sikhs, shooting at you when all you want to do is massacre them for their unbelief and steal their stuff along the way! No-friggin’-fair!

The Sikhs were more than happy to fight hand-to-hand whenever it made sense, and even got praise from the Brits for hacking Brit soldiers to death with their swords even after being spitted on the redcoats’ bayonets. But the Sikhs were also sensible people: Why risk getting cut when you can lure the enemy into an ambush and knock him out of the saddle at long range?

The Sikhs evolved a theory of warfare called “the two-and-a-half strikes.” You got a full point for ambushes and hit-and-run attacks, but only a half point for pitched battles where you lost a lot of your own men. Nathan Bedford Forrest, Francis Marion and Patton himself would have agreed.

By 1810 the Sikhs had driven the Mughals out of the Punjab. They owned the place, literally: They had an independent Sikh kingdom running there, and by all accounts it was the one place in India where something sorta resembling law and order actually prevailed.

The only reason the Sikhs didn’t go on to run all of India and maybe the world is simple: They ran into the Brits. Same reason the Zulu didn’t get to own all of southern Africa. A lot of big, strong tribes were on the move in Queen Victoria’s time, and the same thing happened to most of them: They met the Brits, and that was all she wrote.

Ranjit Singh, the ruler of the Punjab, was smart enough to sign a treaty with the Brits, keep a strong army to back it up, and avoid the sort of little faked “border incidents” the Raj loved to use to start a war. When he died in 1839, the Punjab fell into the usual bickering, and the Brits pounced.

I keep telling you, the Brits circa 1840 weren’t the cute little Monty Python guys you imagine. They were stone killers, the best since the Romans, totally ruthless, no more conscience than a drain contractor. They saw the Sikhs fighting among themselves and went for it.

Even then, even with Sikh traitors fighting for the Brits, the Sikhs had the best of the first Anglo-Sikh war. The Brits lost more than 2,000 men in the first battle, Ferozeshah, in 1845, and were on the verge of offering unconditional surrender when reinforcements arrived and overwhelmed the Khalsa, the Sikh army. The second war, in 1849, was easier, because the Brits, who knew more about occupation than our lame Bremer clones ever will, used the three years in between to bribe, assassinate and divide the Sikh elite. Even so, the Sikh cavalry, fighting basically without any leaders, slaughtered the British cavalry at the battle of Chillianwalla, smacking down the redcoats’ little ceremonial swords with their big scimitars. I’ve read Brit officers’ accounts of that battle, and they say something you get in all accounts of the Sikh: how big and strong the bastards are. The Brits said they felt like children beside the Sikh horsemen, and there’s really funny picture of a white officer surrounded by Sikh soldiers, looking like a pasty little midget with his bodyguards.

And you know the best thing about the Sikhs? They don’t waste time holding grudges. The Brits won; they accepted it, worked with it, and in a few years they were the core of the Raj’s army. That came in handy during the Great Mutiny; the Sikhs stayed loyal and that was what saved the Raj. In fact, the Sikhs stayed so loyal that the battle of Saraghari, one of their greatest-ever last stands, was fought in the service of the British.

In 1897, 21 Sikh soldiers in British service were occupying two tiny forts on the Afghan frontier. The Pushtun were getting bored, the way they do every few months, and decided to stop taking British gold and attack the Raj instead. So 15 or 20,000 Afghans whooped down to the frontier. And those 21 Sikhs were standing in their way.

The Sikh garrison knew they were doomed, and if anything it kind of relaxed them. They went on to cover themselves with glory, killing hundreds of Afghans before they were overrun. The unit’s communications specialist, who used a helicograph, a kind of semaphore, sent his last message asking permission of his Brit officer to stop signaling and go down and die spitting Afghans on his bayonet. Permission was granted, and he carefully packed up his helicograph, charged into the fight and died gloriously.

The only objection you could make, and it’s kind of a quibble, is that politically this is a little weird, like a bunch of Mexicans dying in defense of the Alamo. I mean, it was the Brits who wrecked the Sikh’s homeland and all. But see, that kind of nitpicking is what ruins war-nerding. If you ask me, the Sikhs who died at Saraghari were just doing what they do best. I mean, what boy didn’t dream of dying at the Alamo, or Thermopylae, or on the Bonhomme Richard? Not many of us get a chance to actually do it, and if you do, you don’t nitpick about who pays your wages, you just soak up the gloriousness of it and imagine the songs they’ll write about you, how you’ll look as a statue.

And that’s the great thing about being a Sikh, which I’m gonna be soon unless the beard turns out too scratchy: It’s still happening! The Golden Age of Sikhism is still in session! When the rest of the world is a convalescent home, you can count on the Punjab – along with the Horn of Africa, and the Congo — to keep the old ways going. And you can count on the Sikh to be there, doing a Little Big Horn or Alamo every few years to keep life sweet, and give me hope that there’s something better outside of this office life I’m stuck in.

Dec 03

How American Sikhs became collateral damage in the war on terror



Technically, what happened to Inderjit Singh Mukker was a case of mistaken identity. The 17-year-old who leaned into his car and punched him until he was unconscious thought Mukker’s thick black beard and turban were signs that he was a “terrorist” or “bin Laden.”

But what happened to Mukker was a brutal anti-Sikh hate crime that left the 53-year-old with a fractured cheekbone, an eye swollen to the size of a plum, and his white shirt soaked with blood.

“Holy shit. Holy shit, this happened in my family.”

That’s how Harvind Kaur Singh said she felt in September after being told that her cousin was beaten only a few blocks away from his house in Darien, a suburb 25 miles outside of Chicago, where he has lived for 27 years. Mukker, held by his seatbelt, was trapped like a hamster in a cage.

Courtesy of the Sikh Coalition

Inderjit Singh Mukker after he was attacked.

“People need to always find a way to put a face on the hatred,” she told me recently, referring to the slurs that were yelled at her cousin. She ran her pink fingernails through her long, black and brown hair. “How does a 17-year-old have so much hatred in his heart?”

The attack on Mukker is the most high-profile anti-Sikh hate crime in the nation since the FBI started recording the data in 2015. This year, for the first time since 9/11, violence against Sikh Americans—who are often mistaken for Muslims by their attackers—is not just considered collateral damage in the pursuit of Islamophobia, but broken out it into its own category in federal reports.

The new hate crime data collection training manualdistinguishes between anti-Arab, anti-Hindu, anti-Muslim, and anti-Sikh hate crimes. Here’s the detailed (and well-sourced) blurb for what constitutes a Sikh:

Mentioning a dastarr and kanga may not seem momentous, but consider that before this year, incidents of hate-fueled violence against Sikhs were stuffed into the numbers of anti-Muslim hate crimes. For most of the 2000s, the more than 300,000 American Sikhs in the nation were forced to grapple with a question: How do you feel like you count as a citizen when crimes against you aren’t even counted?

Everything changed on August, 5, 2012, when white supremacist Wade Michael Page opened fire at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, killing six and catapulting violence against an often ignored people into the spotlight.

“When you have the spotlight and the nation’s sympathy is with you, you essentially get one request,” said Simran Jeet Singh, religion fellow at the Sikh Coalition, a group formed to protect the civil rights of American Sikhs. Reforming the FBI statistics, Singh said, was the stricken community’s one request. Enough was enough. The FBI had essentially said attacks against Sikhs weren’t significant enough to be tracked separately, but the massacre of six innocent Sikhs proved otherwise.

Today the doors on the temple are locked, there have been $75,000 in security additions (24 cameras, bullet-proof windows, safe rooms that can house 500), and Sikh Americans have the dignity of being a statistic.

“If we were to address the ignorance, and people just knew who Sikhs were, then would xenophobia end?” asked the Sikh Coalition’s Singh. “We know from history, unfortunately, xenophobia doesn’t work that way. People who are bigoted are bigoted.”

The shooter’s motive will never be known for sure. He killed himself before he could be arrested.

Anti-Sikh sentiment was amplified after 9/11—there werean estimated 200 cases of anti-Sikh hate in the days after the terrorist attack, according to a Sikh organization—but it wasn’t born in the rubble. The price of wearing a turbanwas not a new phenomenon. In the ‘70s Sikhs were calledKhomeini (Iran), then Saddam Hussein (Iraq), then bin Laden (Saudi Arabia), and now—for example, when aiding Syrian refugees—as ISIS. Even in India, “Sardar jokes,” which are basically blonde jokes, are rattled off at the expense of Sikhs.

Last month, a photoshopped selfie of Canadian Sikh Veerender Jubbal, making him appear to be one of the Paris terrorists, went viral. In the doctored photo, Jubbal’s iPad was changed to a Quran and his flannel shirt was now covered by an explosive vest.

The earliest case of bigotry directed at Sikhs in America can be found in the forgotten Bellingham riots of 1907 (explored here by Slate). Indian immigrants from Punjab–predominantly religious Sikhs who didn’t drink alcohol–were accused of stealing logging-industry jobs from white Americans in the Pacific Northwest. Whites rounded up hundreds of Sikhs, beat them up, and kicked them out of town. One startlingly racist front page of The Puget Sound American chronicled these “hindu hordes invading” in a story headlined “Have we a Dusky Peril?” (Image provided by the South Asian American Digital Archive.)


When police first responded to the scene of Mukker’s attack, there wasn’t an immediate understanding that racial bias was involved. To the officers it was just an incident of “road rage.”

A few days later, after outcry from the Sikh Coalition and a more thorough review of the evidence, the State’s Attorney’s Office filed a hate crime charge. (The teen also faces five counts of felony aggravated battery—one for punching a police officer who arrived at his house to arrest him). It is unlikely the case will be moved to an adult court.

Mukker’s cousin, Harvind Kaur Singh, said she wasn’t surprised that authorities had to be prodded into adding the hate crime charge. She has two daughters, 11 and 7, who keep their hair long, while her husband wears a turban. She said that the girls often ask about what happened to Mukker, who they call their uncle.

“He’s afraid. That doesn’t go away,” she said. “My kids are afraid.”

Harsimran Kaur, legal director of the Sikh Coalition, said the police’s initial oversight was telling: prosecutors and law enforcement must be culturally competent enough to understand that being told things like “go back to your country!” is evidence of bias. It’s not enough to notice that Mukker was beaten senseless. Motive matters.

To prove a hate crime, prosecutors have to show evidence of religious-fueled malice at the moment of violence. When an attacker yells a racial epithet, this becomes obvious.

“I’m appalled and disgusted by this decision,” Mukker had said before the hate crime charge. “What happened to me on Tuesday night is the definition of hate.”

Mukker hasn’t spoken much publicly since the incident, though he has returned to work now. His 20-year-old sontold the Chicago Tribune, “Respect your elders and there is no point in hating.”

Family from India landed in Chicago the day after his brutal attack, a visit planned months earlier. They were shocked that something like this could happen in America. I asked whether Mukker is angry. There’s a common, though misguided, refrain for Indian immigrants in the face of racism: America will never be our country.

“It’s not the Indian in them or the faith in them that’s keeping them from being American,” she said. “It’s other people. It’s other people who are having a hard time accepting that they’re American.”

Sep 04

Head teacher apologises after Sikh schoolgirls are ordered to remove their turbans on the first day of term

From the Mail Online 3rd September 2015


Head teacher apologises after Sikh schoolgirls are ordered to remove their turbans on the first day of term

  • Simranjot Kaur, 13, and Prasimran Kaur, 11, were told to remove turbans
  • Both girls, who are not related, refused to remove the traditional headdress
  • They are baptised Khalsa Sikhs and turbans can be worn by both sexes
  • Lyn Bourne, head teacher, apologised saying it was a ‘misunderstanding’

Simranjot Kaur, 13, and 11-year-old Prasimran Kaur, who aren’t related, returned to St Anne’s Catholic School in Southampton, Hampshire, wearing their traditional religious headwear.

Newly enrolled year seven student Prasimran was told to take it off shortly after walking into school, while Simranjot, who is in year nine, said a teacher spotted her coming through the gates yesterday.

Simranjot Kaur, 13, (right) and 11-year-old Prasimran Kaur, (left) who aren't related, returned to St Anne's Catholic School in Southampton, Hampshire, wearing their traditional religious headwear yesterday

Both of the girls, who are baptised Khalsa Sikhs and take the mandatory female surname Kaur, refused to remove the headwear which can be worn by both sexes in their religion.

They claim the school suggested they were wearing them for ‘fashion’ and that they should be replaced by headscarves usually worn by Muslim women.

Their furious families have blasted the school for what they say are ‘discriminatory’ rules.

They claim the Southampton school (pictured) suggested they were wearing them for 'fashion' and that they should be replaced by headscarves usually worn by Muslim women 

Simranjot’s mother Sukhwinder Kaur, 38, said: ‘They are in the correct uniform the only thing different is the turban. If Muslims can wear hijabs then why can’t Sikhs wear turbans?’

Prasimran’s Jaskiran, 18, a former pupil there said: ‘It’s discriminatory. They are a Catholic school and are supposed to support equality.


Men and women who have been initiated into the Sikh faith are known as the Khasla. 

In order to become a Sikh and join the Khalsa, people need to follow the Five Ks: 

  • Kesh: uncut hair as a mark of holiness and submission to God’s will
  • Kangha: a small wooden comb in the hair as a sign of cleanliness
  • Kara: a steel bracelet, a reminder that they are connected to God
  • Kachhera: short cotton underwear, more practical for daily life than the traditional dhoti worn in India
  • Kirpaan: a sword, for protection. 

At puberty an initiation ceremony called the Dastaar Bandi (wearing of the first turban) takes place and young Sikhs are allowed to join the Khalsa. 

Source: BBC 

There was a total lack of understanding. We need to change the school’s policy.’

However, the school has said it was a ‘misunderstanding’ and apologised to both families.

In a statement, head teacher Lyn Bourne said: ‘I would like to apologise to students and parents for any offence caused by our enforcement of our uniform policy this morning.

‘The situation that occurred was a misunderstanding and I can confirm that both girls involved now have permission to wear a turban to school.

‘These should be plain navy blue or black until we are able to identify an appropriate supplier.

‘St Anne’s is an inclusive school community that respects all faiths. We are united by our shared values and do not allow ourselves to be divided by our differences.’

Southampton City Council cabinet member for communities Satvir Kaur, a former headgirl there and a practicing Sikh said: ‘It hasn’t been a great first day back but I’m pleased the situation has been resolved.

‘Southampton has a variety of diverse communities all of which recognise the need to be valued and respected.’