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Friday, January 19, 2007

Movie keeps memory, message alive

Before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Balbir Singh Sodhi was a respected gasoline station owner in east Mesa who built a new life after emigrating from India.

Sodhi and his three brothers chose the United States because our Constitution guarantees freedom of religion.

He was slain outside his gas station four days after the terrorist attacks simply because he wore a turban as required by his Sikh faith. His attacker thought he looked like an Arab....

Soon, I would learn that Sikhs are different from Muslims, that they come from a different region, that their religion teaches religious tolerance because of their belief that there is more than one path to God.

As the death penalty trial of Sodhi's assailant, Frank Roque, played out weeks later in a Mesa courtroom, I also learned that the family was not vengeful, that all they wanted was a guilty verdict because Sikhs believe everyone is accountable to God and that they were repulsed by Roque's insanity defense....

"In my inside, I feel I must spend my whole life educating people. I'm trying to make my future better for myself and my children," said Rana Singh Sodhi, who lives in Gilbert.

He has spoken about religious tolerance to children in his 8-year-old son's classroom.

Now, his mission is about to get national attention. His battle for religious tolerance and his faith in American ideals is the focus of A Dream in Doubt, a documentary that premieres Sunday at the Slamdance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The festival is a showcase for first-time film directors....

[Director Tami] Yeager plans to show the documentary at the Lincoln Center in New York City on Feb. 22, and at the International Asian American Film Festival in San Francisco. She said her hope is that it will be shown nationally someday by PBS, or at least be picked up independently by PBS stations throughout the country.
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