Sunday, September 15, 2019
facebook


Arizona Sikh preaches love 18 years after post-9/11 killing
Rana Singh Sodhi. Photo credit: Facebook

Arizona Sikh preaches love 18 years after post-9/11 killing

14 Sep 2019 | 10:54 PM

PHOENIX (US):Indian Sikh immigrant Rana Singh Sodhi still preaches love and tolerance 18 years after his brother was gunned down in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks by a man who mistook him for a Muslim because of his turban and beard.

[ + read story ]

Phoenix (US), September 14

Indian Sikh immigrant Rana Singh Sodhi still preaches love and tolerance 18 years after his brother was gunned down in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks by a man who mistook him for a Muslim because of his turban and beard.

"I want there to be more awareness, more peace in the world," said Sodhi, who spent much of the first year after his brother Balbir Singh Sodhi's death speaking at schools and houses of worship. 

"I believe education is very important for our community. I made a commitment to reach as many people as I can."

The community was remembering Balbir on the anniversary of his death Sunday with a special meal at a local temple.

Often working through the Arizona Interfaith Movement, Sodhi has been recognised by the state's chapter of the Anti-Defamation League and by the White House under President Barack Obama's administration.

The shooter Frank Roque is serving life in prison for the first-degree murder of Sodhi's older brother at his Mesa, Arizona, gas station on September 15, 2011. 

Balbir was the first of scores of Sikhs as well as Muslims targeted in hate crimes after 9/11.

Another brother, Sukhpal, was shot and killed 10 months later as he drove his cab in San Francisco. 

Authorities did not confirm the second killing as a hate crime, saying it appeared to be a stray bullet from a gang shooting, but the family doesn't doubt he died because of his Sikh identity.

In the case of Balbir, at least, "I feel like we got justice," Sodhi said.

Despite the loss of his brothers, Sodhi, now 52, said he considers himself lucky to live in a country that was founded by immigrants and that allows him to practice his religion, even while the Trump administration makes it harder for other newcomers to settle in the United States.

Three years ago, Sodhi forgave Roque in a telephone call to him in prison. 

After hearing remorse in Roque's voice, he said: "If I had the power to take you out from prison, I would do it right now," according to a highly publicized recording of the conversation.

Sodhi said the family immigrated to the US in 1985, one year after anti-Sikh violence killed thousands of people in their native India. They first settled in California, then Arizona.

Balbir was shot dead while planting flowers at the gas station just four days after the 9/11 attacks. Roque had reportedly said he was "going to go out and shoot some towel-heads." 

Roque was also accused of drive-by shootings later that same day at an Afghan family's home and a Lebanese man's convenience store, although no one was injured in those other shootings.

Attacks against Sikhs following 9/11 helped spark the creation of the Sikh Coalition , the largest Sikh advocacy group in the United States. 

Several documentaries about the attack on Sodhi's brother were produced.

Since then, the worst attack against Sikhs in the US has been the killing of six people in 2012 at a temple, or gurdwara, in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

Federal law enforcement began tracking hate crimes against Sikhs in 2015, but many states still do not.

Most Americans know little about the monotheistic faith founded more than 500 years ago in India's northern Punjab region that rejects the caste system and idolatry. 

The coalition says it is the world's fifth-largest religion with about 25 million adherents worldwide, including about 500,000 in the United States.

Sikhs do not shave or cut their hair, and the men typically wear a turban to protect their long locks.

The men's turbans and beards are articles of faith that sometimes make them targets of people who assume they are Muslim.

The Sikh Coalition has campaigned against that ignorance and declared a major victory in September when the Arizona State Board of Education in September approved new history and social science standards that included information about Sikhism for the first time. 

New York, New Jersey, Texas, Tennessee, Colorado, Idaho and California also include information about Sikhism in their standards for public schools.

Earlier this year, the coalition and other Sikh groups spoke out about the Nordstrom department store's marketing of a blue Gucci turban as a fashion accessory, calling it offensive. Nordstrom apologised.

Another group, the Sikh American Legal Defence and Education Fund , did its part in 2014 by producing a public service announcement for television, which it airs annually to educate people in the US about Sikh Americans. 

The fund's spokeswoman, Gujari Singh, said the organisation also brings young Sikhs to Washington to work with their congressional representatives.

But continuing violence against Sikhs in the US worries community leaders.

Sikh Indian immigrant Parmjit Singh, 64, was stabbed to death August 25 during an evening walk in Tracy, California.

Anthony Kreiter-Rhoads, 21, of Tracy, was later arrested in the killing and has pleaded not guilty. Authorities have still not released a motive.

"When these things happen, we know that there is a very good chance it is related to hate," said Amar Shergill, of the American Sikh Public Affairs Association in Sacramento. 

An attorney, Shergill said he isn't involved with the case but attended the vigil for Singh.

"The work of Rana is very commendable," said Shergill, praising Sodhi's "chardi kala," a Sikh concept that calls for joyous optimism in the face of great challenges.

"But the work must continue to stop the bigots." - AP

Indian-American couple's $250mn gift helps build US med college

Indian-American couple's $250mn gift helps build US med college

15 Sep 2019 | 12:42 PM

FLORIDA: An India- American doctor couple's "impossible" dream to build a state-of-the-art medical college to advance healthcare in Florida and internationally to underserved communities in India and Africa has come to fruition with their $250 million gift.

4 Indian-origin men drown in sewage tank in Italy

4 Indian-origin men drown in sewage tank in Italy

14 Sep 2019 | 7:27 AM

ROME: Four Indian-origin Sikh men drowned in a sewage tank on a cattle farm in northern Italy due to the carbon dioxide fumes coming out from the cow manure, according to media reports.

Man jailed for life for killing Indian-origin worker in UK

Man jailed for life for killing Indian-origin worker in UK

12 Sep 2019 | 5:49 PM

LONDON: A 27-year-old Pakistani-origin man in the UK has been jailed for life for murdering his Indian-origin colleague in the mistaken belief that he was having an affair with his wife.

2 Indians in United Arab Emirates develop app to help visually impaired

2 Indians in United Arab Emirates develop app to help visually impaired

12 Sep 2019 | 3:36 PM

DUBAI: Two UAE-based Indian nationals developed a smartphone app that can help the visually impaired. The app developed by Nandujit Prathap and Visakh GS is called Ioptyc.

Indian-Americans likely to support Biden in Democratic primary: Survey

Indian-Americans likely to support Biden in Democratic primary: Survey

12 Sep 2019 | 11:27 AM

WASHINGTON: Indian Americans are most likely to support former vice-president Joe Biden in the crowded Democratic primary, according to a latest survey.

Film on disgraced yoga guru Bikram Choudhury premieres in Toronto

Film on disgraced yoga guru Bikram Choudhury premieres in Toronto

12 Sep 2019 | 9:54 AM

TORONTO: Controversial yoga guru Bikram Choudhury, who built an empire of hundreds of studios in North America and elsewhere before he fell from grace, is the subject of a compelling and timely no-holds-barred documentary that had its world premiere at the 44th Toronto International Film Festival.

Indian students set to benefit from UK's 2-year post-study work visa

Indian students set to benefit from UK's 2-year post-study work visa

11 Sep 2019 | 9:06 PM

LONDON: In a move that addresses a long-standing demand to boost Indian student numbers choosing British universities, the UK government on Wednesday announced a new two-year post-study work visa route for all international students.

Indian IT company accused of discrimination against non-Indians

Indian IT company accused of discrimination against non-Indians

11 Sep 2019 | 8:33 PM

WASHINGTON: An Indian digital service company has been accused of discrimination against non-Indians and giving preference to people from South Asia in hiring and jobs.

After a heated argument, Indian man stabs 39-year-old wife in UAE

After a heated argument, Indian man stabs 39-year-old wife in UAE

11 Sep 2019 | 1:59 PM

DUBAI: An Indian man in UAE allegedly stabbed his wife to death after a heated argument, according to a media report.

Trump nominates Indian-American Anuraag Singhal as Florida judge

Trump nominates Indian-American Anuraag Singhal as Florida judge

10 Sep 2019 | 3:17 PM

WASHINGTON: Donald Trump nominated an Indian American as a federal judge in Florida. Anuraag Singhal is among the 17 judiciary nomination sent to the Senate.

200 Indian workers in UAE likely to get their long-pending salaries

200 Indian workers in UAE likely to get their long-pending salaries

10 Sep 2019 | 2:28 PM

DUBAI: Around 200 Indian workers in the UAE are likely to receive their salaries and return home, a media report said on Tuesday.

Indian worker at Dubai airport held for stealing mangoes

Indian worker at Dubai airport held for stealing mangoes

13 Sep 2019 | 10:43 PM

DUBAI:An Indian man working at the Dubai International Airport faced a trial at the Court of First Instance for stealing two mangoes from the baggage of a traveller.

8 Indians arrested for importing millions of opioid pills to US

8 Indians arrested for importing millions of opioid pills to US

13 Sep 2019 | 12:48 PM

NEW YORK: US authorities have busted a drug distribution ring that imported millions of opioid pills from India with the arrest of eight people with ties to that country, according to authorities.

  • SpectrumRise of the turbaned hero

    Rise of the turbaned hero

    NEEDED: Sacred Games-2 may have left many of its diehard fans not too happy with the climax, but audience, especially in North India, must be tickled pink at the depiction of its lead protagonist, a turbaned Sikh hero being played by Saif Ali Khan.

  • The painter-prince

    Monbijou is the name of a castle and a palace in Germany that was once located in the central part of Berlin.

  • A mammoth effort

    At first glance, it seems like a bright smudge on the canvas with no meaning to it.

    more Spectrum...
    Dive deep into adventureScuba Diving

    Dive deep into adventure

    11 Sep 2019 | 8:02 AM
    Analyse your chancesFuture Ready: X Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence

    Analyse your chances

    11 Sep 2019 | 8:02 AM
    more Jobs & Careers...