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US Congress Urges Barack Obama To Visit Sikh Gurdwara Before End of Term

October 5, 2016 | By

Washington, D.C. (Press Release): In a bipartisan letter to the White House, members of the American Sikh Congressional Caucus are urging President Obama to visit a Sikh Gurdwara before the end of his presidency. The President’s visit would help bring attention to one of the least understood major world religions in the country and to the growing religious and racial diversity in the United States.

Jas Singh Sajjan, the Policy and Public Affairs Director for the National Sikh Campaign said, “In a time with so much divisive rhetoric, it is refreshing to see 20 Members of Congress, from both parties, come together and work to raise awareness for Sikh-Americans. We also believe that given our political environment, a Gurdwara, which are famous around the world for being open to people regardless of their background, would be the perfect platform for President Obama to address the need for Americans to come together around our common values.”

Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world and is based on the values of gender equality, racial equality, and religious tolerance. The Sikh diaspora has been present in the United States for over a century and there are over 500,000 Sikh Americans that serve as farmers, small business owners, teachers, and doctors.

Misconception and fear towards the Sikh-American community following the 9/11 strikes have led to a steep increase in hate crimes against the community. This includes the mass shooting that took place at a Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin in which six people were killed. The first homicide of 2016 was also a hate crime against a Sikh man who was stabbed to death in Fresno, California because of his ethnic identity and appearance.

Rana Singh Sodhi, the brother of Balbir Singh Sodhi, whose death was the first reported hate-motivated murder in the aftermath of 9/11, said, “A visit to a Gurdwara by President Obama would be historic and it would give him a platform to share that in America, we are not bound by a creed, color, or religion but to enduring set of universal ideals – a belief that is also central in Sikh philosophy.”

The National Sikh Campaign, which formed in 2014 to promote a better understanding of the Sikh community in America, believes that the visit can help garner attention to the unique Sikh-American identity and educate the broader American public about the contributions of Sikh-Americans.

The letter was signed by the following members of Congress: Judy Chu (D-CA-27), John Garamendi (D-CA-3), Patrick Meehan (R-PA-7), David Valadao (R-CA-21), Jim Costa (D-CA-16), Mike Honda (D-CA-17), Jerry McNerney (D-CA-9), Devin Nunes (R-CA-22), Eric Swalwell (D-CA-15), Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ-6), Tom McClintock (R-CA-4), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19), Doug Lamalfa (R-CA-1), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-8), Ami Bera (D-CA-7), Jeff Denham (R-CA-10), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ-3), Tony Cardenas (D-CA-29), Barbara Lee (D-CA-13), and John Conyers Jr. (D-MI-13).

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