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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Isn't it Ironic....

French President Jacques Chirac, whose nation has banned students from wearing conspicuous articles of faith in public schools (including, e.g., Sikh turbans, Muslim hijabs, and Christian crosses) is seen here shaking the hand of Indian President Manmohan Singh, who wears a turban...

... and bowing in front of a Sikh Regiment, "the highest decorated regiments of the Indian Army":

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"Sikh immigrant faced discrimination over job application, tribunal rules"

The Toronto Globe & Mail notes:
Sikh immigrant Gian Sangha took off his turban to make himself look more Canadian and prayed that his job application to a federal government agency would be successful.

He was fluent in four languages, had postgraduate degrees, including a PhD from Germany in environmental science, had co-written two books, authored numerous research papers and taught at India's Punjab University.

Mr. Sangha was working as a landscape gardener in Greater Vancouver -- mowing lawns and weeding flower beds -- when he applied in 2001 for a mid-level position as a regulatory officer with the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board. And he scored among the highest of the 12 applicants the board chose to interview.

Yet to his shock a few days later, he was told his application had been rejected because he was overqualified. The board felt he would become bored with the job's routine nature and quit prematurely.

Mr. Sangha complained to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal in 2002 and in a groundbreaking decision released Friday, the tribunal ruled that the board's action discriminated against Mr. Sangha and visible-minority immigrants in general. It awarded him $9,500 for pain and suffering.

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"Muslims say sign left near mosque was hate crime"

According to the Houston Chronicle:
Islamic leaders are outraged that a sign with anti-Muslim sentiments left near a southeast Houston mosque will not likely be pursued by authorities as a hate crime.

The large plywood sign, written in black crayon, labeled Muslims as the enemy and included a bearded character representing the Prophet Muhammad.

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"Patriot Act E-Mail Searches Apply to Non-Terrorists"

Josh Gerstein of the New York Sun writes:
Two federal judges in Florida have upheld the authority of individual courts to use the Patriot Act to order searches anywhere in the country for e-mails and computer data in all types of criminal investigations....

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Extensive Coverage of Muhammad Cartoon Controversy at Pluralism Project Website

The Pluralism Project's "Religious Diversity News" has been covering the worldwide controversy surrounding the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper (first in September 2005 and recent reprints in other European papers). The Pluralism Project's coverage includes both news articles and an extensive collection of op-ed and editorial pieces responding to the controversy and the apparent clash between "freedom of speech" and offending religious sensibilities.

For all the articles on the cartoon controversy, follow this link:
Controversy Over Cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad

To view just the op-eds and editorials, follow this link:
Commentary on Cartoons of Prophet Muhammad

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

"Texas High School Agrees to Stop Banning Muslim Students' Prayers"

"A Texas high school has agreed to allow its Muslim students to pray during school hours. L.V. Berkner High School in Richardson had told its 30 Muslim students that praying on campus violated the U.S. Constitution's establishment clause, or the so-called separation of church and state"

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"Judge Apologizes For Ejecting Muslim Woman From Court"

Municipal Court Judge David B. Ladenburg apologized for ejecting a Muslim woman for wearing a religious head covering. Judge Ladenburg stated:
I offer my sincerest apology for any discomfort, embarrassment or humiliation she may have felt as a result of my request. My request was a result of sincere and earnest desire to maintain a policy that would be fair to all individuals. There was never intent to discriminate based on religious preference. I will be glad to offer my apology personally should she so desire.

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Monday, February 06, 2006

Elderly Sikh Man Suffers Pelvic Fracture in Attack

According to a Yuba City, California publication:
An eighty year old Turbaned Sikh gentleman was victimized by some Yuba City youngsters as he was biking back from Guru Nanak Sikh Temple on Bogue Road to his home in labor Camp on Garden Highway on Jan 21 st. According to Mr. Harbans Singh, first rocks were thrown at him from the back and he was called different names. He first tried to avoid all this but then a person came out of red van and pushed him off his bike. He fell on the road, causing a pelvic fracture. A compassionate bystander called the ambulance , assuming this was an accident when she saw him lying on the road.

Mr. Singh was taken to the local hospital by ambulance and released that same day. He could not walk and get up and was taken back to hospital on Jan 24th and found to have a pelvic fracture. He stayed in the Hospital until January 28 th. He says that many other Sikh elders have been facing unwanted ridicule at by ignorant people. So far no arrests have been made.... Mr. Singh has lived in US for nearly a decade and loves biking. He is a simple and pious man , belonging to the Namdhari sect of Sikhs. He says he has changed his style of tying turban since 9/11 to avoid any confusion with the style of turbans worn by people in Middle East.
Please click here for the entire text of the article.

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AG Gonzales Meets with Arab, Muslim, Sikh Community Leaders

"Representatives of Muslim, Sikh and Arab American organizations met with Attorney General Alberto Gonzales this week to discuss a range of issues, including domestic surveillance, the Patriot Act, immigrant registration, hate crimes, racial profiling and general relations between law enforcement and grassroots communities."

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"Lords to hear Muslim dress squabble"

UPI reports:
A three-year legal battle over a Muslim schoolgirl's right to wear head-to-toe traditional dress goes before the British House of Lords Monday.

Shabina Begum accused the head teachers and governors of Denbigh High School in Luton, Bedfordshire, of denying her the "right to education and to manifest her religious beliefs."

She had been barred from coming to school in a jiljab, a full-length gown that covers the body and hair, the London Guardian said.

The case has had repercussions for schools in many areas of England.

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"FBI Hate Crime Statistics Vastly Understate Problem"

The Southern Poverty Law Center notes that, "The real number of hate crimes in the United States is more than 15 times higher than FBI statistics reflect, according to a stunning new government report."

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Friday, February 03, 2006

Court orders compensation for 1984 victims

The Madhya Pradesh High Court has ordered the Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh Governments pay compensation to the families of the victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh pogroms by April 30.
The High Court directed the state governments to provide Rs two lakh as ex-gratia to the family of the deceased victims and 40 per cent of the amount as additional relief.

Regarding loss of property during the riots, the High Court directed the governments to provide the amount of loss as estimated by the district collector besides an additional 40 per cent of the loss.
The petition also stated that the banks must be directed to follow the Reserve Bank of India's rules for granting loans to victims. Satnam Singh, who filed the petition, added:
The matter regarding compensation to the victims had been pending before the state government since many years and no decision had been taken by the district administration in about 1,250 cases, he said.
[This entry is cross-posted on ENSAAF's blog.]

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Human Rights Watch annual report

Human Rights Watch has released its annual report examining human rights developments in more than 70 countries during 2005.

According to the report, the human rights situation has worsened across South Asia, as Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal all violated human rights while attempting to put down rebellions.

Although the report commented that the Indian government set up a committee to review the broad powers granted to army and paramilitary forces, it criticized the government for creating legislation to protect police and security forces from prosecution. This legal protection allows the torture of suspects.
"Indian military, paramilitary and police forces have engaged in serious human rights abuses in conflict zones, and yet there have been no attempts at transparent investigations or prosecutions of those responsible," the report says.
The impunity of Indian security forces is apparent in the Punjab mass illegal cremations case. Although the Central Bureau of Investigation reported thousands of illegal creamtions, and the Supreme Court designated the National Human Rights Commission as its body to investigate this crime, the Punjab government has neither admitted wrongdoing, nor prosecuted any security officers for their role in the disapperances and extrajudicial executions leading to the illegal creamtions.

Security forces in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh were also criticized for serious human rights violations such as extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detentions, limited access to prisoners, and custodial torture.

[This entry is cross-posted on ENSAAF's Blog.]

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Embarrassing Defeat for PM Blair on Hate Crime Legislation

Leeds Today reports:
Prime Minister Tony Blair has suffered a shock defeat over new race and religious hate crimes, losing a key measure by just one vote when he himself failed to appear at the count....

Mr Blair had been told by his Chief Whip Hilary Armstrong, who is in charge of party discipline, that he did not need to vote on the key measure. But the Government was defeated by the narrowest of margins of 283 to 282 votes – which it would have won had Mr Blair stayed to vote as the Speaker would have had the final say in a tie and voted with the Government.

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The Discrimination & National Security Initiative (DNSI) is a research entity that examines the mistreatment of minority communities during times of military action or national crisis.

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