Washington, September 29
Asserting that Sikhs are safe under the Trump administration, a group of prominent Sikh-American leaders have alleged that the Biden campaign is trying to “demoralise and demotivate” the community.
It is because of President Donald Trump’s initiatives to ensure religious freedom and liberty that so many Sikh youths are serving in the US military today with their turbans and beard intact, said Harmeet Dhillon, a Sikh-American attorney and co-chair of Lawyers for Trump.
According to Jasdip Singh, co-chair of the Sikhs for Trump, the community members in the US have never been as safe as is under President Trump.
“We are a martial community, no one can bully us. By saying so (that the Sikh community is not safe in US), the Biden campaign is trying to demoralise and demotivate us,” he said.
The Biden campaign, which launched the ‘Sikh Americans for Biden’, in a press release on Sunday said that Sikh-Americans experience bullying at rates twice the national average and have reported a spike in these encounters since 2017.
The Biden campaign vowed to address the unique challenges, including xenophobia, being faced by the Sikh community in the US.
Singh claimed that a Biden-Harris administration would be “anti-Sikh”.
In the November 3 presidential election, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris will challenge incumbent Republican President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
Singh said Harris, during her tenure as California Attorney General, was against the employment of a Sikh man, Trilochan Singh Oberoi, who refused to shave off his beard. “Harris asked him to shave his beard and choose between faith and livelihood. Despite being of Indian-origin, she is anti-Sikh,” he said.
“We cannot support Joe Biden or Kamala Harris. Those are not Sikh values,” Singh said.
In 2005, Oberoi cleared the written test, vision test, a physical abilities test, and every other test required by the state of California to get him a corrections officer job but was denied the position when he refused to shave his beard. The department rejected him, saying the state-mandated wearing a gas-mask during jail emergencies and that keeping beard would be a hindrance.
Finally in 2011, after a six-year-long legal battle, Oberoi was appointed as a correctional officer in the prison and won USD 295,000 in damages.
Singh said, “I want to address all my Sikh brothers and sisters who are questioning me that how being a Sikh I am supporting Trump. I want to ask them a question. How they being Sikh are supporting Joe Biden and Kamala Harris who are supporting and promoting weed and drug culture, who support abortion…same sex marriages. Are these Sikh values?” Singh, who is also a businessman, said as part of the 2020 election campaign he has been travelling to some of the remote parts of the US and his turban and beard have never posed any problem.
“Everywhere I go — from Pennsylvania to Ohio, even in the remote parts of the country — people welcome us. Trump supporters have given me so much love and affection like never before. I represent Sikh and India with my turban,” he said on Monday.
Singh, who had launched ‘Sikhs for Trump’ in 2016, claimed Trump has very strong support from the community.
“Sikh truckers in the US are now supporting President Trump. President Trump has personally acknowledged and thanked the support of the Sikh/Indian American community,” he said, claiming that this year more than 50 per cent of the community members are supporting Trump.
Trump’s policies and vision for America resonated with Indian and Sikh values, he said.
Kanwaljit Singh Rekhi, a Sikh leader, said all minority groups in US have benefited from Trump’s economic recovery plan.
“Small minority businesses mostly owned by South Asians survived during the pandemic due to President Trump’s aggressive economic recovery plan,” he said.
According to Baljinder Singh, another Sikh leader, Trump signed the Religious Freedom Act, which opened doors for Sikh members to serve in the US military and other law enforcement agencies, keeping their turbans and beard intact. PTI