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Saturday, April 29, 2006

Toward the Finish Line

January was the last time I wrote. Since then, I turned twenty-five, injured my wrist, stopped writing, started working harder, and began sprinting toward the finish line to complete post-production on our movie Divided We Fall. Now the movie is almost ready (as you can tell by our smiles) and my wrist has healed enough to write this big update...

(Photo by Ejen Chuang appears in this month's Hyphen Magazine).

UPCOMING SCREENINGS
Divided We Fall will officially premiere this September during the fifth remembrance of 9/11 and tour around the country in the upcoming year. Join our mailing list for more info. In the mean time, we invite you to these special upcoming screenings of the Director's Cut:

SUNDAY MAY 7, 2006 at the HARVARD FILM ARCHIVE
7pm, Carpenter Center, Harvard University
Director’s Cut followed by Q&A with the filmmakers
For details contact: info@dwf-film.com

JUNE 3, 2006 at the N. CALIFORNIA SPINNING WHEEL FILM FESTIVAL
TBA, Stanford University
Director’s Cut followed by Q&A with the filmmakers
For details contact: info@dwf-film.com
(Pictured above right: Toronto's Spinning Wheel Film Festival)

Check out DWF in the news:
"Divided We Fall" in Furman Alumni Magazine by our own Tracy Wells (Pictured right). A must read - click here for the full story.
"The Untold American Story" in Hyphen Magazine by Neelanjana Banerjee. In stores now - click here for an online preview.
--

Before directing/producing Divided We Fall, Sharat Raju wrote and directed the acclaimed short film American Made -- scheduled to make its broadcast premiere on PBS' Independent Lens this May! With 529 air dates on 200+ station affiliates, American Made (pictured) will likely be the first fictional film about Sikh Americans post-9/11 to screen on national television.
American Made is a moving story about a Sikh American family in the aftermath of 9/11. When the Singh family’s car breaks down in the desert, Ranjit tells his father that no one will stop to help because “he looks like a terrorist.” What follows is the heart-rending struggle between a father and son and a larger exploration of assimilation, tradition, and acceptance. Told with humanity and humor, American Made has won seventeen awards from film festivals around the world. We hope you spread the word about the television premiere and tune in with us!
A NOTE

Since October, I’ve spent many weeks in our tiny editing room in Los Angeles, working with our extraordinary editors Scott Rosenblatt and Sharat Raju on shaping 130 hours of raw footage taped over four years into a final movie about a journey into the heart of post-9/11 America. After a dozen drafts and a handful of screenings for my classmates and professors at Harvard Divinity and our filmmaker friends in Los Angeles, we will lock picture in one month to premiere this fall. With American Made premiering on television next month, we are very excited about the possibility of sharing these stories with large audiences. I am deeply grateful for the feedback of our friends (you know who you are): many patient hands have brought DWF this far. To support the film, click here.

More news and reflections to come...

[This entry is cross-posted on "Into the Whirlwind."]

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

"FBI asked to look into Georgia vandalism at Muslim home"

According to the Associated Press:
A national Islamic civil rights group is asking the FBI to investigate vandalism at a Muslim home in suburban Atlanta as a hate crime....

Mohamed and Sania Kamran said someone smashed in the window of their minivan in the driveway and torched it. Firefighters pointed out that someone had painted the message on the wall.

The family called the sheriff's department and filed a report.

Sania Kamran, a native of Pennsylvania whose husband is from Pakistan, said she had been involved in an argument at a local store weeks earlier, during which a woman insulted her for wearing a traditional Muslim outfit.

During another trip to the store, about a week before the vandalism, she said someone traced the word "killers" into dust on her van _ which had a license-plate holder that read "Proud to Be Muslim."

She said she quit wearing obviously Muslim outfits after that incident.

"I'm just afraid," she said. "I have four young children; if someone did something, how would I protect them and protect myself?"

[Douglas County Chief Deputy Stan] Copeland said authorites believe the couple's religion was the motive behind the attack. [Link]

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Seven 1984 victims receive compensation

On March 30, seven victims on the 1984 pogroms received supplementary compensation as ordered by the Supreme Court.
The East Singhbhum deputy commissioner today distributed cheques worth over Rs 7.74 lakh to the dependants of the riot victims.

Parminder Kaur of Mango was inconsolable while receiving a cheque of Rs 1.25 lakh from East Singhbhum deputy commissioner Nitin Madan Kulkarni, as part of the compensation to the victims of the 1984 Sikh riots.

After receiving the cheque, Parminder recounted the moment when her father (a trader in Mango) rushed to his house after sustaining serious injuries in his stomach.
The Indian government continues to improperly label the 1984 pogroms as riots, implying violence on both sides. The label of a �riot� not only mischaracterizes the massacre, but it also purposefully masks its most brutal dimensions, discussed in detail in ENSAAF's report Twenty Years of Impunity:
(1) The targeting of a religious group for murder and extermination, as evidenced by:
a. Slogans calling for the death of all Sikhs;
b. Repeated attacks by gangs to ensure that all Sikhs were killed;
c. Direct targeting of Sikh property;
d. Destruction of symbols and structures of the Sikh faith; and
e. Perpetration of other crimes such as rape and sexual assault, beatings and physical attacks, looting and stealing, extortion, acts of humiliation such as stripping, and mutilation of corpses;
(2) Police participation and instigation of the murders, as well as manipulation of records and destruction of evidence precluding criminal accountability; and
(3) Organized and systematic implemention of the carnage, characterized by:
a. A systematic and uniform method of killing;
b. Public meetings the night before the initiation of the massacre where leaders distributed weapons and exhorted attendees to kill Sikhs;
c. Organized dissemination of rumors;
d. Effective identification of Sikhs through lists;
e. Organized transportation of gangs of assailants; and
f. Large-scale provision and distribution of weapons and kerosene.
[This entry is cross-posted on ENSAAF's blog.]

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Using MySpace for Evidence of Hate Crimes

According to the Associated Press:
When high school teacher Lee Waters logged on to a popular Web site and read the demeaning sexual comments a student had posted alongside her picture, the Sarasota woman felt completely degraded.

The school district suspended the North Port High School student, but attorney Geoffrey Morris said Waters doesn't think the boy understands the humiliation she feels.

The teacher filed a lawsuit against the student in March, but she isn't looking for money. She just wants other students to understand how harmful Internet pranks can be, Morris said.

"This teacher was maligned by this kid," Morris said. "She was so upset about it and she filed this lawsuit because she says teaching is a profession and that the administration turned their back on her complaint."

The Sarasota County School District said it did what it could to help Waters by suspending the student and taking other disciplinary action, but it's not alone as it struggles to deal with cyber-bullying. Similar lawsuits and complaints are popping up in Florida and elsewhere nationwide as bullies move from punching someone on the playground to writing nasty and sometime libelous postings about classmates, teachers and school officials on the Internet, where everyone can read them.

Public and private schools have launched cyber-crackdowns on the bullies, but that has left them vulnerable to accusations that they are violating the students' First Amendment rights, particularly when the posting is made on an off-campus computer as most are. The American Civil Liberties Union has been quick to file and threaten lawsuits if it thinks a school or district has crossed the line.

"If it's directly related to a school situation, then yes, we can discipline," said Fred Navarro, director of secondary education of the Newport-Mesa Unified School District in California.

Twenty middle school pupils in Navarro's district were suspended in February for viewing a MySpace posting made by one child that contained graphic threats against another. Police are investigating the boy's comments about his classmate as a possible hate crime, and the district is trying to expel him.

But Joseph Turrow, an Internet expert at the University of Pennsylvania, calls such discipline for off-campus activity cyber-spying. [Link]

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Muslim Employee Can Wear Religious Headscarf

A Muslim Jiffy Lube employee in Virginia will now be allowed to wear her religion-mandated headscarf to work after an Islamic civil rights group intervened on her behalf, the advocacy group announced in an April 13 press release on U.S. Newswire.

Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said in the release the woman was employed at a Jiffy Lube in Leesburg, VA.

According to the release, she was told she could not wear her hijab because of a "no hats" policy, but the CAIR intervened and company officials agreed to allow the headscarf and apologized to the Muslim employee. [Link]

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

"Muslim students battle prejudice"

It was just two days ago that Kansas University student Bazigha Tufail [pictured] was taunted for being Muslim.

Tufail, 20, stopped at a food court on campus for a bite when she casually made eye contact with a young man. Tufail wore a headscarf as she does wherever she goes.

As the man walked by, he muttered in her direction, “Bombs away.”

The words stung. They gave her pause and left a lingering sadness.

“I’ve never done anything to anybody,” she said. “I’m like, ‘why?’ ... There’s no way to counter that ignorance.”

KU’s Muslim Student Assn. is hosting Islam Awareness Week through Friday to better students’ understanding of Muslims and Islam. The aim is to correct stereotypes and encourage tolerance.

“We want to present ourselves as who we are, to educate people,” said Fadlullah Firman, a KU student who helped organize the events. [Link]

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"Three safe in fire at Sikh temple"

According to the BBC:
Three men have been led to safety following a suspected arson attack at a Sikh temple in Wolverhampton.
Crews were called to the fire after two wheelie bins were found alight outside the Guru Nanak Gurdwara Sikh Temple in Arthur Street in Bilston.

The fire spread to the ground floor of the building just before 0100 BST and the three people inside were freed.

Police have said they are treating the fire as arson and have asked any witnesses to contact them. [Link]

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Coverage of the Immigration Debate at the Pluralism Project

The Pluralism Project's "Religious Diversity News" is covering the responses of various faith communities to the ongoing debates about immigration in the U.S.. For more information, click here.

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10-year-old Prosecuted for Hate Speech

According to the Telegraph (UK):
A judge lambasted the police and Crown Prosecution Service yesterday for taking a 10-year-old boy to court over a playground spat.

District Judge Jonathan Finestein said the decision to prosecute the youngster - accused of calling a fellow pupil a "Paki" and a "nigger" - was "political correctness gone mad".

He attacked the police for not "bothering" to prosecute more serious crime such as car theft but readily picking on a "silly" incident.

He added that he used to be called fat at school and said that in the old days the headmaster would have given the children "a good clouting" and sent them on their way....

[The boy] called an 11-year-old boy "Paki", allegedly referred to him as "bin Laden" and chanted: "He's on the run, pull the trigger and shoot the nigger". He is said to have made the comments in the school playground between July 1 last year and Jan 30 this year.

The 10-year-old denied the racially aggravated public order offence and said he was now friends with the boy. [Link]
[HT: VC]

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The Widow Colony

The Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles is featuring the following film, entitled, "The Widow Colony":
Women widowed in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots recollect painful memories of one of Indian history's darkest chapters. Living together in a poor settlement in Delhi, these brave women await justice from the Indian government, justice that is past due by over two decades.

Director Harpreet Kaur offers a platform for the unheard and suppressed voices of these widows who continue to challenge half-hearted efforts of the law, while sharing their children's struggle for a secure future. [Link]
The official web site of the movie is located here.

More on the 1984-Sikh riots can be found at ENSAAF.

[HT: SM]

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

On Bend it Like Beckham

Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha notes:
People called Bend It Like Beckham a 'culture-clash' comedy, which pissed me off because that's the opposite of what it was. We worked hard to show a girl who was happy with all sides of her life.'
Bend It associate producer and writer Paul Mayeda Berges was asked, "So does their brand of entertainment come with a sense of responsibility?" to which he responded:
'Absolutely,' says Berges. 'Films can educate on a pretty cultural level; a young Sikh man from Texas told us his neighbours always assumed he was an Arab until Bend It Like Beckham.

'We have different traditions that are very important but our desires are similar. People will always respond to work that's culturally specific as long as it's done with humanity and humour.' [Link]

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Monday, April 17, 2006

"Homeland Security will review detention of Spanish Muslim woman"

According to the Associated Press:
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will review the treatment of an Iraqi-born Muslim woman who was forced to remove her hijab and strip-searched while being detained after she was barred from entering the country, officials for an American Muslim civil rights group said Thursday.

Safana Jawad, 45, a Spanish citizen, arrived Tuesday at Tampa International Airport from Spain and had planned to visit her 16-year-old son, who lives with his father in Pinellas County. She flew back to Spain on Thursday evening without seeing her son, her ex-husband, Ahmad Maki Kubba, 49, told the St. Petersburg Times.

Federal officials declined to comment about Jawad. In an interview the newspaper published Wednesday, Jawad said that federal agents told her she could not enter the country because she was connected to someone considered "suspicious." [Link]

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"Muslim Should Be Deported, Board Rules"

According to the Los Angeles Times:
An appeals board said a Buena Park man accused of having ties to terrorism but never charged should be deported to Jordan, overturning a judge who blocked his deportation on grounds that he would be tortured.

The nine-page ruling by the Board of Immigration Appeals was a double victory for the government in its nearly two-year battle to deport Abdel-Jabbar Hamdan, father of six U.S.-born children. While the panel granted the government's appeal to overturn the deportation ban, it also denied Hamdan's appeal for asylum. [Link]
It should be noted that the Board if Immigration Appeals has been severely critized by the federal bench for its handling of cases. For example, respected jurist Judge Richard A. Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently wrote:
the adjudication of these cases at the administrative level has fallen below the minimum standards of legal justice.

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The 'Hip' Hijab

Leela Jacinto of the Christian Science Monitor writes on new hijabs , or Muslim head scarves, developed in response to Dutch bans on head scarfs in school gym classes:
The Dutch Commission of Equal Treatment had recently ruled that high schools could prohibit Muslim girls from wearing head coverings in gym class. Girls were advised to wear turtlenecks teamed with swim caps. But some were ignoring the sartorial advice, preferring instead to skip gym all together.

At about that time, the Dutch were beginning to become disillusioned with multiculturalism....

For Ms. van den Bremen, the phys-ed class controversy offered a means to marry her political sense of injustice with her professional expertise. "I realized that if the hijabs did not look traditional, but hip and trendy, they could possibly change prejudice into some sort of admiration," says the young Dutch designer.

Within months, the "capster" [pictured] was born, and quickly blossomed into a business. In four styles designed for tennis, skating, aerobics, and outdoor sports, van den Bremen's head coverings were sleek, safe, and - in the words of a local Islamic cleric - "Islamically correct." [Link]

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Sikhs Join Immigration Reform Protests

The Modesto Bee is reporting on a group of Sikhs who joined others protesting legislation that would fail to recognize the important contributions that working, illegal immigrants are making to the United States -- a topic that has generated significant controversy particularly because of the fear that generous immigration laws may make it easier for potential terrorists to enter into and eventually harm the nation:
A group of Indian students, some wearing traditional Sikh turbans, joined the march, a day after thousands of Sikhs filled the streets of Livingston during an annual celebration.

Tajender Pabla, 17, said word of the walkout spread quickly through cell phone text messages Sunday and early Monday. Other students spread word through the popular Web site MySpace.com.

"I think it's important to back (Latino students) up in what their beliefs are so they can back us up," Pabla said. [Link]

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Chief Justice Roberts as Defender of Civil Liberties in Wartime?

Law Professor Michael C. Dorf speculates that even though Chief Justice John Roberts agreed that the Supreme Court should not hear the appeal brought by Jose Padilla, "Chief Justice Roberts may be more committed than most observers would have guessed, to a substantial judicial role in defending civil liberties against executive encroachment."

Read his thoughts here.

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Discriminatory Indian Army Recruitment?

In a recruiting announcement, the Indian Army has set forth the minimum requirements expected of the Army-hopefuls, and has enumerated what the applicants should bring to the recruitment fair.

In particular, Sikhs are being asked to bring twelve passport size photographs of themselves with a turban, and twelve photographs of themselves without a turban.

The announcement contains no explanation as to the need for the latter set of photographs. Surely the twelve with the individual's turban should suffice as a form of identification, particularly as Sikhs regularly wear their turbans as part of normal Army duties (even on the battlefield). The legendary Sikh Regiments, for example, contain Sikhs in full military regalia and turbans [see picture].

In other scenarios, Sikhs have complained of situations in which their turbans must be removed for identification purposes, such as for driver's license photos. These situations have been challenged as not only offensive, but discriminatory.

In any case, one wonders what the purpose of these other "non-turban" photographs is, and more importantly, whether this evasive need outweighs the respect that should be customarily shown to the Sikh men.

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"FBI advisory committee hears post-Sept. 11 racial concerns"

Some told of the embarrassment of being detained at an airport check-in line because their Middle Eastern names ended up on a security warning list.

Others wanted to know what counts as a hate crime, while still others told of their frustration at being regarded with suspicion because they are Sikh or Muslim.

About 100 people turned out Saturday for a town hall meeting organized by the FBI's Los Angeles field office and its 2-year-old multicultural advisory committee. [Link]

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

"The next 9/11 case to watch"

Emily Bazelon writes in Slate:
Now that Zacarias Moussaoui is eligible for the death penalty and the Supreme Court has made it clear that Jose Padilla will face regular old federal charges, it's time to start following a new 9/11 case. Ali Saleh Kalah al-Marri is the only person whom the Bush administration has accused of being an enemy combatant who is still being held in the United States. Last week, his case took a turn that demonstrates what's gained from trying accused terrorists in federal court, rather than before a military tribunal....

The government's enemy-combatant allegations against al-Marri are contained in the Rapp Declarations, documents signed by Jeffrey Rapp, director of the Pentagon's Joint Intelligence Task for Combating Terrorism. The declarations repeat almost verbatim the charges in the 2002 indictments—they accuse al-Marri of setting up fake bank accounts and fake e-mail accounts; of stealing credit cards; and of keeping on his computer programs used by hackers, speeches by Osama Bin Laden, and photographs of the World Trade Center. Prosecutors said they'd amassed additional evidence tying al-Marri more directly to the 9/11 plot. But that part of the Rapp Declarations was classified, so al-Marri wasn't allowed to see it.

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Monday, April 10, 2006

NBC's Dateline, Muslims, and the Ethics of Journalism

Dateline, an NBC news program featuring investigative reports and documentaries, has come under fire for reportedely sending Muslim-looking men into a NASCAR race in Martinsville, Virginia, and filming the reaction of the crowd. The interest in the story, it would seem, is to confirm the stereotype that NASCAR fans are a largely homogeneous and racist mix.

The underlying story, whether Muslims or Muslim looking individuals, encounter difficulties on the basis of their actual or perceived religion in a sporting event, is interesting. However, NASCAR believes that Dateline has crossed ethical boundaries in its attempt to investigate and discuss such difficulties. That is, Dateline has, in the words of NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston, "create[d] news instead of reporting news."

There is appeal to NASCAR's argument. There is a fundamental difference between being a passive observer of news or the mistreatment of minorities in particular, and between creating the situations in which such mistreatment is expected to take place. In this case, Dateline's goal -- legitimizing the stereotype against NASCAR attendees -- and its means of reaching this goal -- affirmatively sending Muslim-looking men into the stands -- does not advance journalism or the study of minority-relations after 9/11; the only appropriate consequence, it seems, is a loss of Dateline's own credibility.

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Sunday, April 09, 2006

"It is a question of principle" - Jolly

On this Day:
Sikh busmen in Wolverhampton have won the right to wear turbans on duty after a long-running campaign.

Conductors and drivers who are practising Sikhs will also be allowed to have long beards - another requirement for strict adherents of their faith.

Wolverhampton's Transport Committee dropped its ban after the leader of a Sikh group, Sohan Singh Jolly [pictured], had threatened to burn himself to death in protest.

Mr Jolly, 66, said the ban on turbans and beards was a direct attack on his religion. [Link]

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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Op-ed on Satnam Singh Haircut Controversy

Jac Wilder VerSteeg of the Palm Beach Post (Florida) writes the following in an op-ed entitled, "Where freedom is a cut above":
Satnam Singh says his religious beliefs - he's a Sikh - should prevent Florida prison officials from cutting his hair and shaving his beard when he enters the system next week. Post reporter Lona O'Connor wrote about the case Wednesday.

Singh just finished a three-year stint for passport fraud in federal prison, where the feds let him keep his hair. Next, he'll serve a state term handed down in 2003 after the illegal immigrant used someone else's identity to buy a St. Lucie County condo.

The quick and satisfying answer is that if Singh's religious beliefs did not prevent him from committing fraud and forgery, then his beliefs hardly could be substantial enough to bar a haircut. However good it feels to blurt that response, the problem of how religious beliefs and the civil authorities' judicial systems interact is much more complicated.

Florida, of all states, should be sympathetic to religious accommodation of its inmates. No less an authority figure than Jeb Bush has declared that religious faith is a powerful tool for rehabilitation.

Under Gov. Bush's guidance, Florida has opened three faith-based prisons. The most recent one, a prison for men, opened just last November in Crawfordville. It joins another men's prison in Lawtey and one for women in Tampa.

Gov. Bush has said, "My expectation is we'll have a lower recidivism rate" in faith-based prisons. But, appropriately, we'll just have to take that on faith, since there is as yet no data to support it.

Gov. Bush favors Christian programs. But most religions, including Sikhism, have prohibitions against stealing, drug use, murder and other crimes. If devout people, of whatever faith, are more likely to reform their lives, then Florida should be eager for Singh to keep the unshorn hair and turban that are fundamental expressions of his devotion to Sikhism.

If religion can help rehabilitation, it also can cause problems. There are the fakers who pretend to be religious. Inmates can use religion to harass officials with lawsuits over special diets, access to services or permission to perform rituals. The issues can become very involved. But a federal law, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, gives inmates some clout.

The Supreme Court, in upholding the law, said corrections officials can't impose unnecessary burdens on inmates trying to practice their religion. The court also ruled, however, that the law does not "elevate accommodation of religious observances over an institution's need to maintain order and safety."

So, is it safe to let Singh and other inmates wear turbans in which they might conceal weapons or contraband?

There are so many religions (and inmates) that it's impossible to articulate one rule to cover all circumstances. But, again adopting Florida's philosophy, it would seem wise for prisons to be as tolerant of religious practices as is practical.

Whether it was wise for Florida to move beyond tolerance to actively setting up faith-based prisons is another matter. To me, it crosses the church-state line. That line, however, necessarily is blurry, at least in America, which is dedicated to both religious and secular freedom.

Other countries have tried to solve the conflicts inherent in such a system by attempting to obliterate one half of the church-state balancing act. Totalitarian communist states were (the Soviet Union) and are (Cuba, China) hostile to organized religion.

Afghanistan presents the other face, with the eye-opening attempt by religious leaders to use the country's courts to execute a man whose alleged crime was converting to Christianity. That incident, in a country with a U.S.-backed government, shows the difficulty the Bush administration's nation-builders face in trying to create a Middle East and Persian Gulf region based on secular democracy rather than strictly on Islamic law.

Against such global matters, a haircut might seem insignificant. But the crux of all these conflicts is an individual's religious freedom, which, in America, we value.

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Friday, April 07, 2006

"To be Sikh in Sacramento"

Columnist Anita Creamer of the Sacramento Bee has this interesting profile of Harkirat Hansra [pictured], a Sikh teenager who has decided to address post-9/11 harassment and discrimination through providing online information on Sikhs and Sikhism:
Outside Sunrise Mall two weeks after 9/11, a turbaned and bearded Sikh man and his 11-year-old son were taunted by passers-by: "Terrorists, go back to Afghanistan!"

"People assumed we had something to do with terrorism, and they wanted to retaliate," says Harkirat Hansra, now 15 and a sophomore at Mira Loma High School.

He's not from Afghanistan. He's not even from India, though his parents, Gurprit and Maninder Hansra, immigrated to California in the 1980s from the Punjab state.

Harkirat Hansra is an American, born and bred, a suburban kid from Rancho Cordova. He decided to deal with the problem of misunderstanding and discrimination the American way: through education.

For a school project, he has created a Web site called "Sikhs: The Most Visible Yet Most Misunderstood Minority," which is at www.infoaboutsikhs.com, with the goal of educating Americans about who their Sikh neighbors really are.
Harkirat should be commended for engaging in this proactive response to the ignorance that manifested itself after 9/11 in the form of hate crimes, verbal harassment, and other discriminatory conduct. As his father noted:
"See how he's fighting back?" says his father. "That's why I'm proud of him. He understands there's a problem, but he's trying to find a solution. The solution isn't to run away but to fight back."

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The Consequences of Denying Cert. in Padilla

Yale Law Professor Bruce Ackerman offers this essay online at Slate, regarding the Supreme Court's decision not to hear the case of Jose Padilla. The background and the Supreme Court's refusal to review Padilla's case:
Almost four years ago, Jose Padilla was seized by the Bush administration as an "enemy combatant" upon his arrival at O'Hare Airport. He had arrived in civilian clothes and without any dangerous weapons. Despite his American citizenship, he was held for more than three years in a military brig, without any chance to challenge his detention before a military or civilian tribunal. Attorney General John Ashcroft took to the television to charge him with plotting to attack an American city with a "dirty bomb." The government has long since abandoned this charge, but continued to hold Padilla in military custody—transferring him to the civilian courts last November in an effort to avoid review of its remarkable conduct by the Supreme Court.

This gambit has now proved successful. While four justices must vote to hear a case, this week only three proved willing to consider Padilla's petition challenging his designation as an enemy combatant and his years of detention without a hearing.
Professor Ackerman describes the dangers of the Court's unwillingness to review the Padilla matter:
There will be another successful attack, and the next time around, the president—whoever he or she may be—will be in a position to use Padilla as a precedent to sweep hundreds or thousands of American citizens into military detention camps. By refusing to hear this case, the court allowed the Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit to have the last word, and these judges unanimously upheld the president's authority to seize an unarmed American at O'Hare Airport. Worse yet, the court's infamous Korematsu decision, upholding the mass detention of Japanese Americans during World War II, remains on the books. While it might seem prudent for the court to evade a confrontation with the president in the short-term, its evasive maneuvers will yield big trouble over the longer term....

There is no disguising the seriousness of our current situation, yet we have no real choice but to confront the dangers ahead and begin a sustained conversation that may lead to serious action by the end of the decade.

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Satnam Singh’s Hair Will Remain Uncut

According to an email from the Sikh Coalition:
As a result of overwhelming activism by Sikhs and non-Sikhs worldwide, the Florida Department of Corrections will allow Satnam Singh to serve his sentence in Vermont, where he will able to maintain uncut hair....
Background on the case:
Singh, a forger, is scheduled to enter a Florida prison next week, and the state penal code is unrelenting on the point that incoming male prisoners must receive short haircuts and close shaves, no matter what their religious beliefs.

So grave a matter is a haircut that Singh's 84-year-old father said, "Please cut off my son's head instead of cutting his hair!" [Link]

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"No arrests or new leads in vandalism at Lodi Sikh center"

Investigators still don't know who spray-painted swastikas and racial epithets four months ago at a Sikh worship center, San Joaquin County sheriff's deputies said last week.

Nirmal Samra awoke Oct. 10 to find the graffiti on a produce stand and big-rig trailer on the 8.6-acre property that includes the Sikh worship center. The vandalism included remarks such as "killers" and "white power" along with racial epithets directed at Muslims of Middle Eastern origin....

Sikhs are not Muslim but sometimes are mistaken for Muslims because Sikh men wear turbans.

Hate crimes targeting American Sikhs spiked after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, according to a report released in July by state Attorney General Bill Lockyer. The crimes prompted Sikhs to participate in more community events in hopes of educating the public. [Link]

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"Vandals Scrawl 'Osama Binleden' On Sunrise Mosque"

Members of a South Florida mosque are calling on local and federal authorities to investigate what they believe is a hate crime....

The Islamic Center of South Florida reported that vandals spray-painted the walls of a mosque under construction in Sunrise with the words "Osama Binleden."

"Unfortunately, we've seen these kinds of incidents happen over and over," he said. "Last year we had five incidents of vandalism at the Islamic center in South Florida. This year, actually two weeks ago, there was another incident involving vandalism at the Islamic center in Hollywood. Vandals spray-painted graffiti on the walls. So, of course, this is very disturbing to us because this is a place of worship." [Link]

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"FBI Joins Probe Of Attack Of Muslim Baylor Student"

The FBI is working with the Baylor University Department of Public Safety to investigate an attack on a female Muslim student on the campus....

The woman was grabbed from behind Saturday evening as she walked to her dorm from the Student Union Building....

She said the man grabbed her headscarf and threw her to the ground, yelling profane ethnic and anti-Muslim slurs while threatening to kill her if she made any noise

The man pinned her to the ground, she said, and dug his nails into her chest until she screamed.

When she screamed, she said the man slapped her in the face and kicked her twice in the ribs before he fled.

She required emergency room treatment for a dislocated shoulder and contusions. [Link]

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