International News Channel Formally Apologizes for Depicting Sikhs as Muslims
Washington, DC: March 24, 2011 – Last week SALDEF secured a formal apology from RTTV, a global multilingual television news network based in Russia, following their news broadcast that repeatedly depicted a Sikh man during a report on Muslims. In response to a letter immediately issued by SALDEF bringing the matter to their attention, RT formally apologized and removed the erroneous broadcast from their website.
The problematic segment, which aired on March 8, 2011, discussed anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe in relation to immigration policies. As the commentator explicitly reported on Muslims and the caption stated “Flow of immigrants into Europe fuels growing anti-Muslim sentiment,” the image of a Sikh man was shown twice (see image). For an international news outlet, available in over 100 countries, to conflate Sikhs with Muslims further substantiates misconceptions the public has about Sikhs and the Sikh faith and contributes to the real threats mistaken identity pose to our community.
RT issued a prompt apology, stating, "During that reference our technical crew inadvertently rolled the wrong video and showed a Sikh man. This was in no way intentional nor planned… We deeply apologize to SALDEF and the Sikh community for our mistake." Furthermore, RT immediately removed the problematic news story from their website and welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with SALDEF on positive programming.
SALDEF will continue to monitor media to assertively respond to such errors that compound the challenges Sikh Americans face. We thank Rattanpreet Singh of Pennsylvania for bringing this issue to our attention and encourage others to similarly report incidents of media bias and distortion to SALDEF immediately.
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