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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Library hopes to shut the book on discrimination

N.B. resident donates books and DVDs about Sikh religion

To dispel any misunderstandings about the Sikh religion and to try to prevent further harassment of the religious followers, township resident Rajinder Singh Gadhok has donated a collection of educational materials to the North Brunswick Public Library.

The 10 books and two DVDs, from the Sikh Coalition in New York, will teach about the history, culture, beliefs, human rights and the Diaspora of the Sikh people.

"The object of donating the books and tapes is to acquaint local people about my religion," Gadhok said.

Gadhok was born in Pakistan, raised in India and studied in England. He came to the United States in 1969, living in New York and Missouri until 1973, when he moved to New Jersey.

In North Brunswick since 2002, he said he has seen the effects a post-Sept. 11 world has had on members of his religion. He said the basis of the misunderstanding is that Muslim men grow beards and wear turbans, as do Sikhs, so the general population believes many members of Sikhs and Muslims are terrorists.

"Because of Sept. 11, a lot of our people were misidentified as Muslims and went through hatred by non-Sikhs in this country, so it became very important to educate the local community so they can acquaint themselves with Sikhs and non-Islam," he said. He noted recent instances were a man's turban was burned and a young woman's hair was cut in New York, which are two symbols of the Middle Eastern religions. [Link]

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