Most Americans Associate Turban-Wearers With OBL: Study Lalit K Jha http://news.outlookindia.com/items.aspx?artid=809491 Reflecting the low level of awareness about Sikhs in the US, a new research today said an overwhelming majority of Americans associate turban-wearers with slain al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. The study 'Turban Myths', conducted jointly by the SALDEF (Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund) and Stanford University, revealed that 49 per cent of Americans believe "Sikh" is a sect of Islam; while 70 per cent cannot identify a Sikh man in a picture as a Sikh. As if this was not enough, 79 per cent cannot identify India as the geographic origin of Sikhism, said the report released today in Palo Alto California. It found that 70 per cent of Americans misidentify turban-wearers as Muslim (48 per cent), Hindu, Buddhist or Shinto. This is quite contrary to the fact that almost all men in the US who wear turbans are Sikh-Americans, whose faith originated in India. "This research is critical to our community and confirms our real, lived experiences," said Jasjit Singh, executive director of SALDEF. Sikh-Americans suffered the deadliest act of violence against a religious minority in August last year when a white supremacist stormed a Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and shot dead six worshippers. Following the 9/11 attacks, Sikh-Americans were targeted because of their turban. "We also know that we most effectively bridge these perception gaps when fellow Americans come to know us as the teachers, doctors, coaches, Moms, Dads, brothers, sisters, friends, neighbours and community servants we are," he said. "This study provides a roadmap for creating the mutual understanding and recognition of shared values that can help us build an American community larger than ourselves, and one that includes Sikh Americans as full participants," he said. The study was overseen by Stanford University researcher and Peace Innovation Lab co-director Margarita Quihuis. It involved surveys, social science research and extensive interviews of persons in the Sikh and civil rights community. "The bottom line is that these misperceptions are caught, not taught. Good people make associations based on imagery and messages all around them - from the grocery store to television to the digital world. "In this case the Sikh American community has an opportunity to fill those perception gaps with the truth, in a constructive way to foster peace," Quihuis said.