August 16, 2021 (New York, NY) — Over the past several days, the rapid deterioration of the security situation in Afghanistan–including the Taliban’s swift return to power in most of the country–has dominated U.S. and international news. Organizations like ours and the World Sikh Organization in Canada continue to advocate to our respective governments regarding the urgency of resettling Afghan Sikhs and Hindus, who remain under dire threat. We are also, however, concerned about potential backlash against Sikhs here at home.
After 9/11, the American public’s false conflation of images of the Taliban (often with beards and headcoverings) and the Sikh articles of faith had severe consequences for our community; the Sikh Coalition, founded in response to that groundswell of discrimination, harrassment, and violence, tracked more than 300 anti-Sikh incidents in the first month alone. Now, with Afghanistan and the Taliban once again the focus of the national conversation and political tensions remaining high across our nation, it is important to be prepared for the potential risk of this kind of backlash.
For this reason, we are again advising vigilance and caution for every Sikh household and sangat in the days and weeks ahead. We urge you to know your rights, remain aware of your surroundings, and always report cases of bias, bigotry, and discrimination.
TAKE ACTION AND KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
Report Hate Incidents: If you or someone you know has experienced hate violence, bias-based property damage, hate vandalism, or threats thereof, immediately seek safety and medical attention if necessary and call law enforcement as soon as possible to report the incident. Please be aware that law enforcement should not ask you about your immigration status; in the event that they do, you have the right to not answer this question. Please contact the Sikh Coalition at 212-655-3095 or fill out our reporting form immediately after the incident; we can provide free and confidential consultation with experienced attorneys in both English and Punjabi.
Know Your Rights: Please be aware of your surroundings and know your rights. Download our FAQ guide on hate crimes and hate speech, and display our hate crime poster at your gurdwara in both English and Punjabi. Additionally, we provide educational brochures that serve as an introduction to the Sikh faith, community, and traditions; this resource is available in 18 different languages. To receive free copies of any of our available resources, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Share Gurdwara Security Toolkit: Print or email our Gurdwara Security Toolkit to share with your gurdwara. Since 2017, more than 75 different gurdwaras have worked with the Sikh Coalition to take proactive steps to make their gurdwaras safer. Ask your gurdwara if they have already participated; if they haven’t, have a gurdwara committee member email us at email@example.com for a free consultation.
Share This Information With Your Family and Friends: Finally, please forward this email to your immediate family and friends. Encourage them to sign up for the Sikh Coalition’s email alerts so that they can continue to receive related updates on resources and information. Then, take the next easy step and post this information to your social media accounts. It is critical that we disseminate this information to every sangat member so that if a hate crime or bias-motivated incident happens, they know we are here to provide free and confidential legal resources.
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges you to practice your faith fearlessly.