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)