October 16, 2009 (Washington, DC) - Today, the civil rights concerns of the Sikh American community were featured on RT--an international English-language news channel broadcast to more than 200 million viewers in 100 countries on five continents throughout the world.

Earlier this week, SALDEF was present at the White House when President Obama signed an Executive Order restoring the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, an interagency task force charged with addressing social and economic concerns of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.  In his remarks, President Obama acknowledged the problem of post-9/11 hate crimes and noted that they are "driven by ignorance and prejudice that are an affront to everything that this nation stands for."

After the ceremony, SALDEF submitted a memorandum to White House aides. Addressed to President Obama--and co-written by SALDEF and the Sikh Coalition--the memorandum urges President Obama to secure the right of Sikh Americans to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces and safeguard the right of Sikh Americans to wear religious headcoverings in driver's license photographs under the PASS ID Act of 2009.

In a videotaped Diwali message that coincided with the signing, President Obama noted that Sikhs mark the occasion as Bandi Chhor Diwas in remembrance of Guru Har Gobind, the sixth Guru of the Sikhs. SALDEF appreciates the President's gesture and hopes that he will personally work on strengthening the civil rights of Sikh Americans in the United States.


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