For Immediate Release
Primary Press Contact: Mark Reading-Smith
Media & Communications Director, the Sikh Coalition
Secondary Press Contact: Jagmeet Singh
Media & Communications Manager, the Sikh Coalition
May 2, 2017 (Washington, D.C.) – Today, Dr. Prabhjot Singh – a Sikh American who has experienced hate violence firsthand – will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the urgent need to address hate crimes in the United States. Drawing on his personal and community experience, as well as professional expertise in community health, Dr. Singh will urge government officials to make hate crime prevention a top priority.
“While it is clear that Sikh Americans are not alone in experiencing a rise in hate crimes, the experience of our community is important to understand how dangerous this current era of inflammatory rhetoric promises to be if action is not taken,” said Dr. Singh in his written testimony.
The Sikh American community, which has been an integral part of the American fabric for over 125 years, is estimated to be hundreds of times more likely to suffer hate crimes than the average American. This is in part due to the Sikh articles of faith, including a turban and beard, which represent the Sikh religious commitment to justice, tolerance and equality.
“At a time of increasing hostility toward immigrants and religious minorities our elected officials must do everything in their power to prevent hate from claiming another life,” said Rajdeep Singh Jolly, Interim Managing Director of Programs at the Sikh Coalition. “We are grateful to the Senate Judiciary Committee for starting an important conversation, but our elected officials must walk the talk.”
Since March 2017, a Sikh man was shot and injured outside his driveway in Kent, Washington, and another was assaulted while driving a taxi in New York City. In response to increased threats against Muslim and Jewish places of worship, the Sikh Coalition has circulated security guidance to gurdwaras (Sikh houses of worship) nationwide to help prevent a deadly repeat of Oak Creek, which claimed the lives of six Wisconsin Sikhs in 2012.
Testimony submitted by Dr. Singh and the Sikh Coalition called for better hate crime data, accountability for elected officials who promote hatred of minorities, and proactive engagement between government officials and the communities they serve to prevent hate crimes.
“This is literally a life and death issue for millions of Americans,” said Rajdeep Singh. “If our government officials care about keeping all Americans safe, they should start acting like their own loved ones are at risk.”
The Sikh Coalition is the largest Sikh civil rights organization in the United States and has over 15 years of legal and policy expertise on issues related to hate crimes. The hearing begins at 10:30am EST and can be watched live here. For more information about the Sikh community or for potential interviews with Dr. Prabhjot Singh or our staff experts, please contact Mark Reading-Smith or Jagmeet Singh.