New Campaign Aims to Combat Hate Against Sikhs

There is a new campaign to combat hate against a religious group that's often misidentified.  Queens Reporter Ruschell Boone has more on their latest effort to raise awareness about their religion.

Their turbans are tied to their religious and personal identity, but for many Sikhs it's a target of hate.

"Just walking down the street I've heard, 'Terrorist, Osama Bin Laden, ISIS,'" recalled Chanpreet Singh.

Sikhs are not Muslim, but they often hear vicious comments from people looking to attack them based on their appearance.

Sikhism is the fifth-largest religion in the world and is based on equality and service to others.

Chanpreet Singh has launched a public awareness campaign to show the different faces of Sikh Americans and their culture.

"It features a doctor, it features an engineer, it features a business woman, everyday people that you see on the streets," Singh said. "I would like people to notice them and say, 'Oh wow, I am donating and contributing to the country as much as you are.'"

Singh is the founder of Sikhs of New York, and his efforts are the latest in the quest for awareness, which began more than 15 years ago in Richmond Hill in Queens after the September 11th terror attacks.

The neighborhood is home to the city's largest Sikh population, and several people were viciously attacked in the aftermath. 

The city's dramatic increase in hate crimes and President Trump's statements about Muslims were the reason behind this latest campaign.

"The sad part of this whole story is that we are forced again and again to prove that we are as much American as anybody else," said Harpreet Singh Toor of the Sikh Cultural Society.

Many believe there is a renewed backlash against Muslims, and they are concerned for their safety.

But Chanpreet Singh, who is also in the video, says one way to combat hate is through understanding.

On April 15th, he will spearhead a Turban Day event in Times Square, where people can learn about the Sikh religion and the significance of the turban.

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