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Urgent Education in our midst & Outside-Our identity is Mistaken

Discussion in 'Political Videos' started by Chaan Pardesi, Aug 28, 2012.

  1. Chaan Pardesi

    Chaan Pardesi
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    Writer SPNer Contributor

    Oct 5, 2008
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    Urgent Education in our midst and outside-Our Identity is Mistaken!

    1669, Guru Nanak Ji graced the beautiful but highly disturbed land of
    the Punjab.Seeing the strife around he declared in Bhairo M 5 , Page
    "we are neither Hindus nor Moslems"

    He went to say in Bhairo Kabir, Page 1159,'I have abandoned all
    strife.I have abandoned both the Pundit and Mullah.Whatever was written
    by the Pundit or the Mullah, that I accept not and has cast it aside'.

    Nine more Gurus followed carrying the same Light of Liberation, Peace,
    Freedom with Naam , for the welfare of all humanity , but for those
    who chose to follow the path of the Sikhism, the journey was full of
    challenges, with confidence and dignity.At the end of it the Sikh faith
    was complete with an independent identity,history,and a unique message
    of spirituality for all human kind and stood along other recognised
    faiths, in its own right.

    Sikhism is neither Islamic,nor Hindu, Buddhist or any other, but
    plainly a single independent faith, Sikh.We have our own identity,
    language and mode of prayers, that are totally different from anyone
    else's.But many people, continue to mistake the Sikhs as Muslims,
    Hindus, or taliban.In very recent times, it shook me to find out that
    even many so called "Sikhs" in our midst, perhaps influenced by the
    bollywood magical dramatics believe and rant on that Sikhs are nothing
    more than the Hindu!

    A RK Sandhu in a recent comment on a net states that "Guru
    Nanak was born a Hindu and 'died'a Hindu, as only the Muslims and
    Hindus argued over his body".This poor faculty of thought made me wonder!

    RK Sandhu goes on to state "The Khalsa was formed to fight the
    Mughals"How more misrepresentative and void of mental faculties can one
    get, than this?She goes on to state"I am a true Sikh, and practise
    Sikhism truly"What is the truth in any of her statements?Absolutely
    nothing!If such self confessed 'Sikhs' know so little about Guru Nanak
    and his faith, what more knowledge can we expect from people who meet
    the Sikhs for the very first time?I would say nil understanding and
    would have no knowledge about the Sikhs!

    A Romesh Ghumiar, claims he is 'Sikh Hindu', on the net again.He waffles various issues and ends with obscenities.Not a Very Sikh idea of debate.

    What is Hindu Sikh?Such people are mischieviously misrepresenting the
    Sikhs and Sikh religion,creating their own concossion that makes no sense.

    Fast forward , into the 1850s, Sikhs arrive in Malaya-Singapore ,first
    as political prisoners, then as the law keepers of the empire.The
    locals refer to them as Bengalis! For generations, the Sikhs have bit
    their lips when mistakenly referred to as Bengalis. Many usually excuse
    the gaffe by ordinary folk who do not know any better,but a storm blew
    in a tea cup when a so called educated Chief Minister, Jamaludin refered
    to the Sikhs gathered for Vesakhi, as Bengali! Jamaluddin admitted in
    an SMS to the New Straits Times newspaper that he had made a mistake in
    referring to Sikhs as Bengalis.

    In Malaysia, Sikhs have been mistakenly referred to as Bengalis for
    decades, yet no Sikh nor any other has been able to explain how,or
    offer an explanation as to why this has been happening.

    "Sikhs are the ones who celebrate Vasakhi, not Bengalis. Can't he get
    that fact right? I am terribly disappointed with him," Someone said.
    Many Sikhs present got cross and said that Malaysians, especially
    political leaders, should know the difference between Bengalis and
    Sikhs.Having been in the country for well over 150 years, other
    Malaysians are generally as ignorant as the Americans appear to be
    about the Sikhs and Muslims.

    The same wrong label goes with Sikhs in Singapore, North Borneo and

    1860s, Many Sikhs are peddling around the Australian outback, selling
    their wares.They are refered to as Afghans.No body offers any
    explanation to why the Sikhs do not explain to the host community why
    they are not Afghan.Many in the outback of Australia continue to today
    believe those with turbans are Afghans.

    Back track to 1907, many Sikhs have arrived on the west coast of
    America since about 1880s.They are called Hindoos!On September 4th,
    1907 five hundred white working men in Bellingham, WA gathered to drive
    a community of "hindoo" workers out of the city.The Sikhs are called
    Hindoos!Again no one takes the trouble to explain to the locals they
    are mainly Sikhs and not hindoos!

    At the end of the 21st century, Sikhs celebrate the 300 hunderd
    annivesary of their unique identity, Khalsa hood.Large celebrations
    take place all over the world where ever Sikhs communities are.But at
    the end of the year non Sikhs are no better informed who the Sikhs
    are.In Germany, The Sikhs are known as Indians and sometimes Hindus!

    In Italy,until 1980s Sikhs were confused with the North African
    Muslims, namely Malians!This still persist in many of the Southern
    parts of Italy, despite now an ever increasing populatiuon of Sikhs,
    running into over 130,000.

    In Paris, a person asked me if I was a Muslameen from Sudan, in
    1978.In 2008, I was asked the same again on the streets of Paris.They have been no better educated.

    The French Government seeing the rising tide of extremism in the
    name of religion, bans the Burka,hijab and other religious symbols in
    France.The Sikh Turban, being part of the five articles of the faith
    and identity of the Sikhs falls into this ban.Sikhs cry out and assert
    their religious freedom.The French ask, are there any Sikhs in
    France?Goes to show, just how much had Sikhs explained to other
    communities about themselves!Despite a resident population of about
    7,000 and more visiting from Italy and UK, the French know absolutely
    nothing about the Sikh religion and people.

    In Iran Sikhs have been more fortunate to be refered to as Hindia.In
    Afghanistan,as Sardar!In East Afrika,they were nobly refered to as Kala
    Singa, in Kenya and Tanzania,and Singa Singa in Uganda!

    The Sikh way of life in the USA changed and was shattered tremendously
    after the attack on the twin towers in September 2001.The Sikhs who
    many had mistakenly believed to be anything else, but Sikhs, would be
    looked upon with suspicion! The first person arrested in suspicion was
    an innocent Sikh travelling on an Amtrack train!As the photo of his
    arrest was flashed all the world over, it sent a wave of shock among
    Sikhs!Why are they arresting a Sikh, when the self declared culprits of
    the plane crashes were extremist Muslims, allied to the taliban or
    other extremist terror groups, using the name of Islam, and against the
    wishes of the greater majority of Muslims who wished to live peacefully.

    The Sikhs in the USA too like their counter parts in Malaysia,
    Singapore, Italy, France or Germany never bothered to seriously educate
    the host communities about their identity and unique appearance.They had
    worked hard,made success of their professions, jobs and busineses,kept
    mostly to themsleves and out of attention, until that fateful day of
    Setember,11th, 2001.

    The after effects of the mistaken people and identity was not confined
    to USA.It was felt in the UK.Reports had come in of some Sikhs being
    shouted at with hate messages-"taliban"Osama bin laden"terrorist"But
    thankfully, by and large, the large Sikh community in UK having had a
    longer presence in the country , was more widely known correctly as
    Sikhs and recognised for their hard working ethics and honest
    community participation.The fact that Sikhism is taught in UK schools
    and there was a large presence of Sikh history in the country 's
    museums and libraries helped the Sikhs not fall victims of wrong
    identification, as their American counterparts.

    The case in Europe was slightly less fortunate.Sikhs were looked upon
    with suspicion after 2001, in France, Germany and other countries.Sikh
    passengers travelling within and out of mainland European airports
    were strictly monitored and racially profiled in Poland, Italy and

    In Poland,a fluent Polish speaking Sikh from UK,was harrased at Warzaw
    airport unnecesarily and asked to remove his turban.He took his case to
    the courts. In Italy numerous cases of similar harrasment and racial
    profiling have come to light.One involved a high profiled Sikh.In
    France,a case has come to light,where a Sikh passenger was asked to
    remove his head gear for inspection, but then relented and allowed to
    board the plane.

    Following these incidents, Sikhs gathered in in their thousands in
    London, Madrid, Lisbon,Berlin, Rome and other European capitals to
    assert their right to wear turbans without being racially profiled and
    harrased.The campaign continues.

    In Australia and New Zealand, the Sikhs faced similar hurtful
    experiences.An Air New Zealand flight refused to take off after the
    presence of 6 Sikh passengers on the plane.Some acts of vandalism were
    committed against the Sikh Gurduaras in both countries, including
    isolated attacks upon individuals.

    Intererstingly, throughout all these period Sikhs have still come out
    loud and clearly and boldly to say to the world who we are, and who we are
    not; and how we are not associated with the world wide terrorsit acts,
    that go on in the name of a religion.

    However, the Sikhs in the US were not spared the wrath of individuals
    and coporate race hate groups and ill informed government officials.It
    all started soon after September 2011.Immediately after the September
    11, 2001, terrorist acts, Sikhs came under attack.

    They were being mistaken for Muslims because of their beards and
    turbans, they became ripe targets for zealots seeking revenge.

    The first person murdered in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks was a
    Sikh -- a gas station owner in Mesa, Arizona, named Balbir Singh Sodhi
    who was shot five times by aircraft mechanic Frank Roque.

    In the intervening years, the Sikh Coalition, a New York-based advocacy
    group, reported more than 700 attacks or bias-related incidents.some
    instances from the long list of attacks that Sikhs have faced since

    September 15, 2001: Roque guns down Sodhi outside a Mesa gas station.
    Roque drives up to the station, fires five times and flees. He goes on
    to shoot at a Lebanese-American gas station clerk and fire into the
    home of an Afghan-American family later the same day. He is serving a
    life sentence.

    December 2001: Two men beat store owner Surinder Singh 20 times with
    metal poles in Los Angeles while they utter, "We'll kill bin Laden

    March 2004: Vandals scrawl the words, "It's not your country" in blue
    spray paint on the wall of the Gurdwara Sahib temple in Fresno,
    California. The temple was also vandalized a year earlier.

    July 2004: Rajinder Singh Khalsa is beaten unconscious by six men in
    New York City, after they taunt him and his friend about their turban.
    The beating leaves Khalsa with multiple fractures.

    August 2006: Iqbal Singh is stabbed in the neck with a steak knife in
    San Jose, California, while he is standing in the carport of his house.
    The attacker later tells police he wanted to "kill a Taliban."

    October 2008: Ajit Singh Chima is punched and kicked in the head while
    out on his daily walk in Carteret, New Jersey. The attacker does not
    take anything from Chima.

    January 2009: Jasmir Singh is attacked outside a New York grocery
    store, with men shouting racial slurs. Two years later, his father is

    November 2010: Two passengers beat Harbhajan Singh, a Sikh cabdriver,
    in Sacramento, California, with one of them calling him "Osama bin

    March 2011: Gurmej Singh Atwal and Surinder Singh are gunned down in
    Elk Grove, California, while out on their afternoon walk. They are not
    robbed and had no enemies, family members say.

    February 2012: A Sikh temple under construction in Sterling Heights,
    Michigan, is defaced, with graffiti on the wall depicting a gun and a
    Christian cross. Someone also scrawls "Mohmed," perhaps in reference to
    the Muslim prophet Hazerat Mohammed Sahib.

    Some Sikhs had their houses vandalized; others were spat upon. In some
    extreme cases, Sikhs were set upon by groups of people and beaten.Often
    even the Police instead of arresting the criminal perpetrators arrested
    the Sikhs and families, only to let go later!The prejucide with racial
    profiling was at work.

    As the incidents waned, the community had hoped the worst was behind
    them -- until Sunday the 6th , when a man shot and killed at least six
    people at the Sikh Gurduara outside Milwaukee, wounded a police
    officer and was shot by another officer's bullets, later shooting
    himself in the head.

    .Witnesses said the gunman had a 9/11 tattoo on one arm.While the
    shooter's motives are not yet known, what is clear is that the incident
    has dredged up the sense of shock and sadness Sikhs felt 11 years ago.

    "Everybody should feel at home," he said Sunday. "This nation belongs
    to everyone."But little seems to have changed.The United States is home
    to about 700,000 Sikhs, nearly all of Indian origin. The men are easily
    identifiable by their beards and turbans, a tradition that's lasted for
    500 years.

    Today, we are all American Sikhs.But the attire and appearance have
    also meant that they are often mistaken for Muslims, and are targets of
    anti-Islam attacks.

    "Our appearance looks like Osama bin Laden and those of Afghanistan,"
    Suminder Sodhi, a friend of the Arizona victim, said at the time of the
    first attack. "But we are different people from Muslim people. We have
    different beliefs, a different religion."

    Because many of the incidents go unreported and because the FBI doesn't
    specifically list them -- instead lumping them as "anti-Islamic" crimes
    -- exact numbers are hard to come by.

    Earlier this year, New York Rep. Joe Crowley sent a letter to the
    Justice Department to begin tracking crimes against Sikhs. He asked
    that the FBI update its Hate Crime Incident Report Form (1-699), which
    does not have a designation for crimes against Sikhs as it does for
    some other groups.

    "The more information our law enforcement agencies have on violence
    against Sikh-Americans, the more they can do to help prevent these
    crimes and bring those who commit them to justice," Crowley said.

    But what can the Sikh community do to teach the people that they are
    Sikhs.Not Bengalis, Taliban, Hindoos, or Muslims.When in our own midst
    we have misled people like RK Sandhu and Romesh Ghumiar, who are
    calling themselves Hindu -Sikh or that Sikhs are Hindus!That Guru Nanak
    was Hindu!These parasite and subservient thinking of such misinformed
    people from our midst needs to be erased and challenged. We need to teach
    those in our midst and non Sikhs that we are Sikhs and a totally
    independent community and not part or any sect of Hinduism or any other.

    Going by history, our mistaken identity is not a new phenomenon.It
    appears to have started in Malaysia in the 1850s and has dragged along
    with Sikhs being called different names and with different tags in
    different parts of the world.This often wrong label has given wrong
    impressions and prejudice against the Sikhs.

    Also going by history, Sikhs in Malaysia, Singapore and elewhere have
    not done anything nationally to correct the wrong label of Bengali,
    Taliban,or Hindoo, as a community.Would same line of thinking prevail
    within the American Sikh community?I think it would be a grave mistake
    if nothing was done to correct the wrong perception Americans and
    others have about the Sikh identity, and image as a community.

    It is very urgent need of the day,following what happened in Winconsin
    to educate not only others but those fickle minded within our own who
    ignorantly perceive Sikhs to be Hindus or anything else but SIKHS!Education is the biggest weapon with time, the Sikhs can have to invest into local communities to educate about themselves.

    I end reiterating that Sikhs are NOT Hindus,nor Muslims with a few
    couplets from Prabhati Kabir, Page 1350,

    If God only lives in the Mosque, to whom belongs the rest.Hindus
    consider hari is contained in the image.Both do not know the Essence.

    Gurcharan Singh Kulim
    Repton Park,Chigwell
    #1 Chaan Pardesi, Aug 28, 2012
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2012
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