Most Americans agree they know nothing about Sikhs

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Reuters

Christian Today report- Almost two thirds of Americans admit they know nothing about Sikhs, a new survey has found, despite the fact that Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world.

A survey commissioned by the National Sikh Campaign (NSC) showed that 31 per cent of non-Asian Americans have never seen or interacted with someone who is Sikh, and only 11 per cent have a close friend or acquaintance who is Sikh.

When shown a photograph of a man in a turban, just 11 per cent of respondents identified him as Sikh – 20 per cent thought he was Muslim.

The survey also appeared to reveal reservations about traditional Sikh dress – 17 per cent of those surveyed thought they had much in common with a Sikh woman wearing a turban, in comparison with the 30 per cent who said the same of a Sikh woman with long hair and no turban.

A number of those polled admitted to feeling a little “wary,” “nervous,” or “cautious” of men in turbans.

The NSC report, entitled ‘Sikhism in the United States: What Americans know and need to know’, supports research conducted in 2014, which found that more than half of Sikh children are bullied at school, a statistic which increases to two-thirds among those who wear turbans.

According to the NSC, there has been a “dramatic increase in hate-based violence against Sikhs” since 9/11. This includes the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting in 2012, which was biggest act of violence against a faith community in the US since the 1963 church bombings in Alabama.

“Sikhs experience daily encounters with discrimination and hate incidents that go unreported and therefore unrecognized,” the report said.

The report suggests that Sikhism is largely misunderstood in the US, although there are around half a million Sikhs living in the US. In response, the NSC is urging Americans to educate themselves about the faith, in the hope of seeing perceptions change.

“We want to make sure that we pave a way for a conducive environment for our future generations so they don’t have to take off their turban to hide or to feel sorry for their identity,” NSC co-founder Rajwant Singh said on Monday.

Another co-founder, Gurwin Singh Ahuja, added: “We hold incredibly progressive values. Sikhs believe that men and women are equal, that all faiths should have the right to practice, and we have to do a better job of communicating those things.”

“Ultimately,” he continued, “we want to give young Sikhs a future where tying their turban in the morning is not a cause for concern.”

Source: Christian Today

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