Tuesday July 17, 2018
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Obama administration assures Sikhs of support

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New Delhi: Melissa Rogers, special assistant to US President Barack Obama said that the Obama administration is standing by the Sikh community in America in the aftermath of the racial attacks against the community.

Sikhs have faced a series of attacks as a result of lack of ignorance and islamophobia prevailing in the American society.

She paid condolences to the Sikhs for the violence and attacks against them. She said these incidents are a matter of concern to the US government and the government promises to stand with the community in these challenging times.

US army allows Sikhs to grow a beard and have a turban which was not allowed earlier. According to a study by Sikh American Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF), seventy per cent of Americans cannot differentiate between a Sikh and Muslim as people from the both faiths keep the beard.

A large portion of the American population thinks that Sikhism is a sect of Islam and turban is the part of it. The bias against the color and the religious faith of a person is so much into the minds of an American that they have created stereotypes.

Last month a man made the video in which he called a Sikh man sitting next to him in a flight, ‘Osama Bin Laden’. Especially after the California Massacre, a fear among the US public had increased and top of that the Republican candidate for President Donald Trump has been absurd in his speeches where he demanded the complete ban on Muslims entering in the nation.

However, the root of the issue is not being addressed. Which is the ignorance. There is a need eradicate the lack of knowledge from the American society. Somebody needs to find the reason how can a person be called terrorist just because he has a certain religious belief which are not same to yours.

Indian diaspora in the USA or other western countries is a large section of those countries and time and time again they have contributed heavily for their adopted nations but even after that, there is a feeling of being unwanted and such racial attacks prove it right.

It would be better for Sikhs and humanity in general if the Obama government or the next government, provide them the feeling of security and encourage the public to treat Sikhs and all other communities without any biases.

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20 Indians Killed In A Terrorist Attack In Afghanistan

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (IHRC) condemned the attack

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Afghan firefighters clean up the site of a deadly suicide bombing near Kabul University, in Kabul, March 21, 2018.
Afghan firefighters clean up the site of a deadly suicide bombing near Kabul University, in Kabul, March 21, 2018. VOA

A suicide bomber targeted a group of Sikhs and Hindus, two Afghan minority communities, in Jalalabad city, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, on Sunday, killing nearly 20 people.

“They brutalized us. They have martyred 15 and wounded 15 other Sikhs. We are not aligned with any group or party. Why would anyone attack us? We never harmed anyone,” Tarlok Singh, a member of the Sikh religious minority, told VOA.

However, an Afghan health official told VOA the death toll was higher, with 19 people killed — at least 17 from the Sikh and Hindu communities — and at least 20 others injured.

The Sikhs and Hindus were reportedly on their way to attend a gathering led by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in the provincial governor’s office when a suicide bomber on foot detonated his explosive device.

Islamic State through its media wing, Amaq, took responsibility for the attack in Jalalabad city, however, the militant group claimed to have targeted a “medical compound.”

It is believed to be one of the first times a suicide bomber has targeted members of the Sikh minority group in Afghanistan.

“Unfortunately, it is the first time that our Sikhs become the victim of suicide bombing. The leaders of the group and their active community members were all killed or injured today,” Zabihullah Zimaray, a former provincial secretary general of Nangarhar province, told VOA.

Avtar Singh Khalsa, a longtime leader in the Sikh community, was among those killed in today’s suicide attack, an Afghan official told VOA.

Khalsa was an unopposed candidate running for the only seat for Afghan Sikh and Hindu minorities in Afghanistan’s parliamentary election in October.

Place where the attack took place
Map, Place where the attack took place. VOA

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (IHRC) condemned the attack and called the attack on minority groups “… an obvious example of a war crime,” and asked the Afghan government to bring those responsible to justice.

“The Afghan armed oppositions must respect the international humanitarian laws and human rights values and refrain from targeting specific groups or individuals,” IHRC spokesperson Mohammad Bilal Sidiqi told VOA.

Discrimination

The Afghan Sikh and Hindu populations totaled about 220,000 in the 1980s. That number dropped sharply to 15,000 when the mujahedeen were in power during the 1990s and remained at that level during the Taliban regime. It is now estimated that only 1,350 Hindus and Sikhs remain in the country, according to an investigation conducted by TOLO news, Afghanistan’s most viewed private television station.

Discrimination is one the many reasons Sikh and Hindu minorities are fleeing Afghanistan, Anar Kali Hunaryar, an Afghan Sikh senator, told VOA in a previous interview.

“Discrimination has caused our children not to attend the mainstream schools and that is why most of our kids in Afghanistan remained illiterate and could not actively participate in their communities,” Hunaryar said during the interview.

Afghanistan is a predominantly Muslim country, but the constitution spells out equal rights to the followers of other faiths.

“The sacred religion of Islam is the religion of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Followers of other faiths shall be free within the bounds of law in the exercise and performance of their religious rituals,” reads Article Two in Chapter One of the constitution.

However, Rawinder Singh, a member of the Afghan Sikh and Hindu Union, who spoke to VOA previously on the topic, named “social discrimination” as the No. 1 problem religious minorities face in the country.

The Indian subcontinent is the birthplace of the Sikh faith, and India is home to the world’s largest Sikh population.

“Our fellow Afghans call us Indian and we are being told to go back to India. We are Afghans just like any other resident of this country. Yes, we follow the same religion as Indians, but it’s not rational to say that we do not belong to Afghanistan,” Singh told VOA.

Sikh and Hindu minorities mostly dwell in the south and eastern Afghanistan, and their numbers continue to fall.

Also read: Twin Bomb Attacks in Afghanistan’s Kabul Kills 25 , IS Takes Responsibility

“We were being treated ill and discriminated in the past, but today they badly brutalized us,” Tarlok Singh said, referring to the suicide bomber attack. (VOA)