US Sikhs celebrate Baisakhi by raking up civil rights issues

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New York, Apr 15 (UNI) Sikhs here led Baisakhi celebrations by organising a rally protesting against the alleged discrimination, bias and harassment faced by them.

While organising the rally yesterday, they also released a civil rights agenda and a report, which were the result of a year-long survey of 1000 Sikh members by the community coalition.

The report titled-- Making Our Voice Heard: A Civil Rights Agenda for New York City Sikhs -- alleged that a large gap existed between the law and the actual experiences of the Sikh community.

State Assembly member Jose Rivera and City Council members John Liu, David Weprin, Robert Jackson and Leroy Comerie were also present in the rally.

According to the report, 41 per cent of Sikhs had been called by derogatory names or slurs; half of the Sikh students had experienced some form of harassment at school based on their religion or national origin; one in 10 Sikhs believed had been refused employment or a job promotion because of their community identity; while about half of the Sikh immigrants did not have any form of health insurance for either themselves or their family members.

''The civil rights agenda not only helps to identify and document the bias, discrimination and harassment experienced by Sikhs in the city, but also takes the critical step of putting forth a bold prescription on ways government may best address these issues,'' Mr Liu said.

The report claimed that Sikhs in the United States suffered from significant issues of bias and discrimination in all walks of life.

''It is the coalition's intention to continue to address these issues both through research and advocacy,'' the Sikh Coalition said, adding, ''On this Baisakhi Day, we call on all Sikhs to stand up for their civil rights and fearlessly maintain their articles of faith.'' Sikhs are among the largest linguistic and religious groups within the broader Indian-American community, which is estimated to number about 3 million.

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