Twenty years after 9/11, Sikhs still feel more to do to stop victimization of mistaken identity


New Delhi: Apparently, 9/11 (terrorist attacks against the US carried on September 11, 2001) had nothing to do with Sikhs, but the community inadvertently became victim to one of the ghastly attacks on the US soil carried out by Islamist terror group al-Qaeda. 

Immediately after the attack, the Sikh males were targeted, especially by white supremacists, who would taunt them for their turban, beard, and similar looks to that of Islamist terrorists. 

The young Sikh children were bullied in schools and marketplaces and often subjected to hate crimes of varied natures. 

Various Sikh bodies across the world claim to have worked tirelessly to acquaint the world with the distinct Sikh identity post 9/11 and even during the coronavirus pandemic but have not been completely successful in achieving their target owing to which Sikhs still become victims to hate crimes. 

The international Sikh leadership had also been endeavouring to lobby politicians and use technology and their contacts across the globe to ensure that those in power understand their concerns. 

Amrik Singh, Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK), said that they had held National Sikh Convention at Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Smethwick on September 12.  

“Twenty years earlier we had the vision to develop the first-ever Sikh agenda for the UK government that was launched at the convention in September 2001 within days of the 9/11 terror attack. Since then we have had new global challenges, especially linked to discrimination and attacks on our Sikh identity.  We have however had some notable successes in defending our Sikh identity and have come a long way, although the re-emergence of the Taliban will create further difficulties” he told Zee Media.

“Post attack at twin tower on September 11, 2001, there has been strong sentiment against the perpetrators of this attack in the United States but at many places in the US, Sikhs were targeted because of mistaken identity. From verbal to physical attacks reported at many places, even places of worship were targeted and the first casualty was a Sikh, Balbir Singh Sodhi with a fatal shooting But gradually efforts were made to educate the American people to let them know about Sikhs,” said Pritpal Singh, coordinator American Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee (AGPC).

This was one of the main reasons for the inception of the American Sikhs Congressional caucus, Which is supported by bipartisan Congressmen of the united state of America claims Pritpal Singh.

Many Sikh organizations including Sikh Coalition, United Sikhs, AGPC, Eco Sikh like Sikh bodies contributed, and cases of hate crime were put onto trials and punished by the courts, yet there is still a gap to fill however we were able to bring the law of hate crime in force.

The hate crimes against Sikhs have been largely due to their outlook no matter how much the community performs or even outperforms others in the humanitarian services across the globe.

Through the support of the Sikh Coalition and other allied organizations, Congresswomen Pramilya Jayapal and Judy Chu introduced a resolution recognizing the racist backlash faced by our communities after 9/11 and calling for a full review of the ways that our government furthered that backlash, said Satjeet Kaur, Executive Director of the Sikh Coalition.

Twenty years after 9/11, we have made so much progress–but still have more to do together, said Satjeet Kaur, Executive Director of the Sikh Coalition.

MeanWhile paying respect at the 9/11 Memorial in New York, Taranjit Singh Sandhu India’s envoy to the United State of America said, “the world must unite against this menace September 11”.

Here in India both the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, the key Sikh organizations, have been harping on their voice of doing relentless work to inform the world about the distinct Sikh identity through Indian embassies abroad but their efforts appeared to have born no fruits given the incessant hate crime against Sikhs.

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