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USA Sikh offers prayers for the first time in the history of Republican conventions

Discussion in 'Breaking News' started by Archived_Member16, Aug 30, 2012.

  1. Archived_Member16

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    Sikh offers prayers for the first time in the history of Republican conventions

    Agencies Posted: Aug 30, 2012 at 1338 hrs

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    Tampa (Florida) A Sikh priest has scripted history by offering invocation at the Republican National Convention, where he was invited by the party as part of its "healing touch" effort towards the community shocked by the Wisconsin gurdwara massacre. Ishwar Singh, the head priest of the Sikh Society of Central Florida, offered invocation and brief opening remarks at the start of the convention's second days' proceedings here on Wednesday, immediately after America's national anthem. "It was a great day for me and the Sikh community," Singh saidafter creating history.

    This is for the first time in the history of Republican national conventions that a Sikh went to the stage to offer invocation.

    "It is a great honour for me to be here today as a Sikh and as an American. I am proud that my country cherishes the values of freedom, equality and dignity," Singh, sporting a white pagri, said in his remarks in front of thousands of Republicans who had gathered from all across the country to nominate Mitt Romney as their presidential candidate.

    Singh was invited for the invocation by the Republican party as part of its "healing touch" effort towards the Sikh community which was shocked and shattered by the killing of six worshippers in a gurdwara in Wisconsin on August 5. "We are deeply saddened by recent acts of violence, including the mass shooting of Sikh-Americans in our gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Let us end hate against all people and remember that we truly are one nation under God," he said.

    "This evening, as we come together at the Republican National Convention to help decide the future of our nation, let us remember love and oneness," Singh said. Singh concluded his invocation with the last line of Ardaas, the Sikh prayer of supplication: "Nanak nam chardi kala, tere bhane sarbat da bhala" and explained it in English: "In the Name of God, Vaheguru, we find everlasting optimism. Within Your Will, we pray for the upliftment of all humanity."

    Earlier in an opinion piece on the CNN website, Singh wrote that his prayer was an opportunity to share the spirit of the Sikh faith with the American people. The tenets of Sikhism -- humility, equality, and justice -- lie at the heart of the American ethic. "The prayer calls upon the American public to join with us in recognition that we are one family. As an immigrant, a small-business owner and a father, I am humbled by the opportunity to address the nation. "When I came to this country over 40 years ago, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the honour of offering a prayer for the nation. My story is possible only in America," he wrote.

    source: http://www.expressindia.com/latest-...the-history-of-republican-conventions/995336/
     
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    Sikh…and ye shall find: Courting minorities amid xenophobia

    Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN | Aug 31, 2012, 01.11AM IST

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    Ishwar Singh delivers an invocation at the Tampa Bay
    Times Forum in Tampa, Florida, on August 29, 2012
    during the Republican National Convention (RNC).



    TAMPA (FLORIDA): Nearly a month after a gunman went on a bloody rampage at a Wisconsin gurdwara, a bearded, turbaned Sikh offered an invocation at the Republican National Convention (RNC) on Wednesday night as part of the Grand Old Party's outreach towards minorities and outliers, generally seen as Democratic Party supporters.

    That effort was undercut in some measure by a couple of distasteful incidents at the convention, demonstrating that every party gets the poopers it ill-deserves, and that Republicans have more than a fair share of delinquents.

    Two offenders were turfed out of the RNC on Wednesday after they harassed an African-American camerawoman from CNN, allegedly throwing peanut shells at her and taunting, "This is how we feed animals."

    In a separate incident, a group of young, hot-blooded Republicans began chanting "U-S-A, U-S-A," when a Hispanic party functionary began speaking in accented English. Party stalwarts quickly brought the situation under control by asking for order and respect for the speaker, but the unscripted moment couldn't hide what one commentator described as "an ugly outburst of nativism" in a party lately accused of stirring up xenophobia.

    Beyond these aberrations, the GOP wheeled out a succession of outliers, including Log Cabin (gay and lesbian) Republicans and pro-choice women members to demonstrate its effort at being a big tent party. But the most striking illustration of such outreach came when Ishwar Singh, head priest of the Sikh Society of Central Florida, stepped up to the podium on Wednesday in a snow-white turban to deliver a halting invocation that was greeted with mild applause.

    "The tenets of Sikhism - humility, equality, and justice - lie at the heart of the American ethic," Singh said later. "I hope that my presence on the national stage will play a small part in helping Sikhs - and people of all races, faiths and orientations - be seen as part of the great American family."

    Some activists were skeptical, suggesting that the GOP gesture was duplicitous. "If Mitt Romney and Republican leaders want the historic Sikh invocation to be more than tokenism -- and are serious about preventing another Oak Creek -- they cannot continue to let hateful speech within their own party go unchecked," Valerie Kaur, founding director of Groundswell, a social activist group, wrote in a CNN opinion piece, pointing to instances when the party leadership had flirted with xenophobia.

    Romney himself has been under scrutiny on this matter after he made statements that Kaur said "implied that President Barack Obama's skin color renders him foreign or suspect." At a campaign stop last week, Romney boasted in an off-the-cuff moment that "No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate," a snarky reference to questions (mostly from Republican wingnuts) about Obama's birthplace. Another time, he was quoted as saying Obama was trying to "change the nature of America" and that "his course is extraordinarily foreign."

    On the flip side though, Republicans managed to prominently project Sikhs from their platform even though Democrats have long appeared to have monopolized their political loyalty. In Tampa, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, a Sikhni who converted to Christianity, and Ricky Gill, a young (only 25) clean-cut Sikh Congressional candidate from California, had their two-minutes of speechmaking under the spotlight.

    The first Sikh (and indeed the first Indian) to be elected to the House of Representatives, Dalip Singh Saund, was a Democrat, while Kaur, on the other hand, said her Sikh American father was a Republican.

    Indeed, both parties have made strenuous efforts to court the Sikh community despite their modest numbers, an effort spurred in part by India currently having a Sikh Prime Minister. President Bush was demonstrably deferential and affectionate towards Dr Manmohan Singh, who returned the sentiment by once telling him that the "people of India love you, Mr President."

    President Obama has been similarly reverential towards the elderly Prime Minister, hosting him for a state dinner at the White House, and often seeking his counsel. In fact, after a brief flub during the 2008 election season when the Obama campaign tried to embarrass Hillary Clinton for her close association with Sikhs (She was described as a Democrat from Punjab, needling aside for which Obama apologized), the President has gone to great lengths to show his respect for the Sikh faith. The Obama White House hosted an event on the occasion of Guru Nanak's 540th birthday, and Sikh activists have unprecedented access to the White House in their efforts to raise the community profile and avoid intrusive security scrutiny.

    Last week, First Lady Michelle Obama personally visited families of the victims of the Wisconsin gurdwara shooting after Obama himself spoke to some of them on telephone. Republicans haven't lagged in that either with vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan and Wisconsin governor Paul Ryan extending their support.

    All in all, it's an extraordinary all-round show of support for a community that is less than half a million in the United States, while Muslims, who are more than ten times the number, must be wondering what they have to do to attract similar attention and courting.

    source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/...ties-amid-xenophobia/articleshow/16023195.cms
     
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