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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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Haspel, Trump’s Choice For CIA Director, Withdraws Her Name

Taken aback at her stance, senior White House aides, including legislative affairs head Marc Short and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, rushed to meet Haspel at her office late Friday afternoon.

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Trump open to meeting Kim again. (Wikimedia Commons)

Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump’s pick to head the CIA, has offered to withdraw her nomination after some White House officials raised concerns about her ability to get confirmed, the media reported.

Haspel told the White House she was interested in stepping aside if it avoided the spectacle of a brutal confirmation hearing on Wednesday and potential damage to the Central Intelligence Agency’s reputation and her own, The Washington Post reported on Sunday.

She was summoned to the White House on Friday for a meeting on her history in the CIA’s controversial interrogation programme – which employed techniques such as waterboarding that are widely seen as torture – and signaled that she was going to withdraw her nomination.

Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump's pick to head the CIA, has offered to withdraw her nomination after some White House officials raised concerns about her ability to get confirmed, the media reported.
CIA, USA- wikimedia commons

She then returned to CIA headquarters, informed officials told The Washington Post.

Taken aback at her stance, senior White House aides, including legislative affairs head Marc Short and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, rushed to meet Haspel at her office late Friday afternoon.

Haspel, who serves as the CIA’s deputy director and has spent 33 years in the agency, most of it undercover, faces some opposition in Congress because of her connection to the interrogation programme, which was set up after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

In 2002, Haspel oversaw a secret CIA detention facility in Thailand, where one Al Qaeda suspect was waterboarded.

Three years later, Haspel was involved in the CIA’s destruction of nearly 100 videotapes that recorded the detainees’ interrogations, launching an investigation by a special prosecutor who ultimately decided not to bring charges against those involved.

An administration official told The Washington Post that the nomination remains on track.

Also Read: North Korea Accuses US of Pressurising, Says It Will Harm Peace 

“There is a hearing prep session today, courtesy calls with senators Monday and Tuesday, and classified materials will be delivered to Senate security so senators can read the real record instead of relying on gossip and unfounded smears,” the official added.

A CIA spokesperson told CNN on Sunday: “There has been a fascinating phenomenon over the last few weeks. Those who know the true Gina Haspel — who worked with her, who served with her, who helped her confront terrorism, Russia and countless other threats to our nation — they almost uniformly support her.

“When the American people finally have a chance to see the true Gina Haspel on Wednesday, they will understand why she is so admired and why she is and will be a great leader for this Agency.” (IANS)