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Efforts to increase interfaith dialogue by Sikh Americans

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Washington: As many as 15 diverse civil rights and faith-based organizations joined by the National Sikh Campaign (NSC) at a White House event sought to reinvigorate American traditions of inclusion, freedom and interfaith cooperation.

The coalition, rooted in the belief that America’s strength comes from its diverse heritage, also launched an innovative project called, “Know Your Neighbour” calling on all Americans to share their own beliefs as well as understand and respect those of others.

“We are a nation of Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, non-religious people, and more – we live and work together and we need to have faith in each other,” said NSC Executive Director Gurwin Singh Ahuja, who designed the project.

Developed after extensive research, including NSC’s “Sikhs in the United States” report, Know Your Neighbour seeks to protect and strengthen the fabric of one of the most religiously diverse countries in the world.

“Americans know that minority religions, such as Sikhism, Islam and Hinduism, exist in the United States yet they don’t realise that they are their neighbors, friends and coworkers,” said Dr. Rajwant Singh, Senior Advisor to the National Sikh Campaign.

“If we can make that realization for those who are unaware, we are bridging a major gap towards tolerance and acceptance.”

The coalition also seeks to address the recent uptick in hateful rhetoric against religious minorities, which has led to increased discrimination, mistrust, and violence – particularly against Sikh and Muslim Americans.

“The rise in anti-Muslim sentiment has created a dangerous environment for all faiths – not just Muslims or Sikhs,” said Rana Singh Sodhi, brother of Balbir Singh Sodhi, the first Sikh man killed after 9/11.

“Truthfully, religious liberty and co-existence is at risk, and this interfaith effort to address these issues is more critical now than ever before,” he said.

The KYN coalition members include: American Civil Liberties Union, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Centre for Inquiry, Hindu American Seva Communities, Interfaith Alliance, Interfaith Youth Core, Islamic Networks Group, Muslim Advocates, National Council of Churches, National Sikh Campaign, Religious Action Centre of Reform Judaism, Religions for Peace USA, The Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign, and Sikh Coalition.(IANS)

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U.S. Commerce Department Recommends White House on How to Proceed with Auto Industry Tariffs

Some trade organizations also blasted the Commerce Department for keeping the details of its "Section 232" national security report shrouded in secrecy.

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Auto industry, tariffs
Robots swing a cab and bed into place for a new heavy duty pickup truck on the assembly line where Chevrolet Silverado trucks are being built at General Motors Flint Assembly in Flint, Michigan, Jan. 30, 2019. VOA

The U.S. auto industry urged President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday not to saddle imported cars and auto parts with steep tariffs, after the U.S. Commerce Department sent a confidential report to the White House late on Sunday with its recommendations for how to proceed.

Some trade organizations also blasted the Commerce Department for keeping the details of its “Section 232” national security report shrouded in secrecy, which will make it much harder for the industry to react during the next 90 days Trump will have to review it.

“Secrecy around the report only increases the uncertainty and concern across the industry created by the threat of tariffs,” the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association said in a statement, adding that it was “alarmed and dismayed.”

“It is critical that our industry have the opportunity to review the recommendations and advise the White House on how proposed tariffs, if they are recommended, will put jobs at risk, impact consumers, and trigger a reduction in U.S. investments that could set us back decades.”

Representatives from the White House and the Commerce Department could not immediately be reached.

Auto industry, tariffs
Some trade organizations also blasted the Commerce Department for keeping the details of its “Section 232” national security report shrouded in secrecy. VOA

The industry has warned that possible tariffs of up to 25 percent on millions of imported cars and parts would add thousands of dollars to vehicle costs and potentially devastate the U.S economy by slashing jobs.

Administration officials have said tariff threats on autos are a way to win concessions from Japan and the EU. Last year, Trump agreed not to impose tariffs as long as talks with the two trading partners were proceeding in a productive manner.

“We believe the imposition of higher import tariffs on automotive products under Section 232 and the likely retaliatory tariffs against U.S. auto exports would undermine – and not help – the economic and employment contributions that FCA, US, Ford Motor Company and General Motors make to the U.S. economy,” said former Missouri Governor Matt Blunt, the president of the American Automotive Policy Council.

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Some Republican lawmakers have also said they share the industry’s concerns. In a statement issued on Monday, Republican Congresswoman Jackie Walorski said she fears the Commerce Department’s report could “set the stage for costly tariffs on cars and auto parts.”

“President Trump is right to seek a level playing field for American businesses and workers, but the best way to do that is with a scalpel, not an axe,” she added. (VOA)