NGO to spread Sikhism message in US
JALANDHAR: US-based NGO Sikhs for Justice has hired a lobbying firm to educate American media about the true identity and message of Sikhism. It took this step after comedian Jay Leno told a joke showing the Golden Temple in his monologue and terming it the future summer home of Republican Party presidential candidate Mitt Romney on January 19.
Lobbyists plan to approach NBC (which telecasts Leno's show) to provide a forum to Sikh scholars to educate media and American public about the sanctity of Golden Temple.
"NBC will also be asked to run a documentary on Sikhism during prime time to help spread the message. Also, since Sikhs have been victims of hate crimes after 9/11 due to misinformation about the religion, lobbyists will approach US media to run segments showing authentic characteristics of Sikhism," said Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor to SFJ.
Leno's remark had sparked a row among Sikhs. NRI affairs minister Vayalar Ravi had asked Indian ambassador in US to raise this issue with authorities there.
Pannun said educating international media about Sikhs was a needed to spread the true message of Sikhism. "Hundreds of Sikhs have been victims of hate crimes in US since 9/11. In 2001, Balbir Singh Sodhi was murdered. In December 2011, a Sikh senior citizen was attacked in Fresno."
SFJ's youth coordinator, Tejkaran Kaur, said it was misinformation about Sikh religion and identity that was responsible for crimes against Sikhs in US after 9/11. "Wrongful depiction of Darbar Sahib by Jay Leno makes Sikhs more vulnerable, apart from hurting their sentiments," she added.
Meanwhile, SFJ Coordination Committee has called off its February 2 protest rally. Apart from launching a Facebook page to boycott Leno and Sikhs flooding NBC with protest calls, SFJ had also lodged a complaint with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of US government and a California-based NRI Sikh had filed a suit for damages for libel in the superior court of California against Leno and NBC.