B U L L E T I N

Happy New Year!

1. New Year Message - A purposeful life – Huffington post
2. A Note about Sean Hannity, Stuart Varney and Fox News –request
3. Note about Bridgette Gabriel’s comment on Fox News – upon request
4. American Muslims are proud of taking the right step - Link
5. Moderate Muslims Speak out? Link

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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Texas Faith; What would you like to hear Obama and Romney say in their convention speeches?




From January 2008 through March 2009, I followed Obama’s speeches, indeed, I wrote about him in advance and he spoke similar words. He is a pluralist, an inclusivist who respects the given space of every human being that God has placed on the earth. More about him and 40 articles I have written about him are linked below.

He is going to speak at the convention and I am going to write a mock speech and hoping his speech would have many elements from my speech. I will write a full speech hoping it would be similar to his real speech, as it has been in the past. Here is a sample at Dallas Morning News in today’s Texas faith column.

Texas Faith: What would you like to hear Obama and Romney say in their convention speeches?


MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas

I hope President Obama delivers this speech to the nation.

Every day, I think about you, the 43 Million of my fellow Americans, who are patiently enduring the pain of placing food on your tables, and the sacrifices you are making daily to take care of your families.

As a society we have failed you in your pursuit of happiness, we have failed to create an aggressive environment where you can find means of earning a livelihood, and the fulfillment of a sense of responsibility to your family.

I am deeply troubled by it, like millions of you, I was not born with a silver spoon, and I understand your feelings. I am also thankful to the almighty for giving you the humility, forbearance and courage to believe in America. There is always the light at the end of the tunnel, that is indeed the commonality of our faiths, and that is what gets us going forward.

As a nation, we have two priorities; your job and the well being of you and your family.
We have a severe budget deficit, and we need funds to provide temporary relief to fellow Americans to take care of their families until there is a source of income for them. I will not let you down, and let you suffer more than what you already have. I will fight with the congress not to cut benefits to you.

By the way, Republicans are not wrong at all in reigning on spending, let me correct this notion, it is just not the Republicans, but every Democrat and every American believes in that, and you as an individual and a family lives within your means. Shouldn’t we?

We are all in this mess together, and as Americans we have a moral responsibility to take care of each other with our basic needs, everyone has to survive, not just the fittest ones with safe havens.

We have to raise funds or borrow it to survive until things get better. The short term solution is to ask every able American to continue to contribute in creating jobs, but also pay the same percent of taxes as every American does, whether your income is moderate or beyond imagination.

This paragraph is an add on, and not in the Morning News; If you are making $48,000 a year, more than likely you will end up paying $9,600.00 with 20% net tax rate, what if you pay $6,720 at 14% rate, would the additional $2,880 help you pay the bills? Forget the luxury, will it help you “survive” and take care of your family? You pay your taxes generously. If you make $23 Million a year, and if you pay like everyone else, you will contribute a fair share to the economy and we can pull it through equitably with the shared pain.

We need to be a healthy nation to sustain productivity, investing in your health through the health care reforms is the right thing to do, so you can focus on productivity rather than spend time worrying about how to take care of your loved ones.

We can stabilize our economy without repealing the good things working for your future, and as your president, I want to leave you prosperous, just like President Clinton did. Here are my specific plans and hurdles I face for the next four years and I need your vote of confidence for four more years.

Texas faith is a weekly column, where panelists from different traditions respond to the issues of the day - for all the responses, please visit Dallas Morning News at

Please join us for Unity day on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 11:30 AM at Unity Church of Dallas - details at www.UnitydayUSA.com


MORE ABOUT OBAMA - MY PERSPECTIVES

At 10:00 PM on Wednesday, January 3, 2008, history was made. Democratic candidate Barak Obama, an African American was declared winner of the Iowa caucus for the Democratic Party. January 3, 2008 will be written as a golden day in the civic History of America. 97% of the nearly 3 Million Iowans are rural conservative white folks. On this day, they have fulfilled a larger dream for the world by choosing Obama in Iowa caucuses; it was a major leap in the annals of human civilization, where color of the Person or ethnicity did not matter. What he can do for the country mattered.

Since then I have written nearly 40 articles about him, have cheered for him, criticized him and held two rallies and voted for him in 2008. He has disappointed us, and to be fair, it could have been worse with McCain going to another war in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere to show off our might, but destroy America from within. What good is the war, when it weakens the average American family with a loss of job, home and his or her savings? Obama had his domestic priorities screwed up. I did not want to vote for him this term, even though I liked him.

I was looking for a candidate among fellow Republicans; I was banking on Romney, the only non-extremist candidates among the few left, he looked good amidst them, but when he added Paul Ryan to his ticket, I waited with disappointment for some good statements and held out till Saturday, August 25, 2012 in vain. But when I saw the disgusting dishonest film about Obama on Saturday, I realized between two evils, my country is better off with lesser evil; Obama.

  1. Disgusting Dishonest film about Obama - http://smirkingchimp.com/thread/mike-ghouse/45147/2016-obama-s-america-a-disgustingly-dishonest-film
  2. Romney-Ryan are not worth standing up for - http://smirkingchimp.com/thread/mike-ghouse/45195/gov-christie-back-off-on-womens-condescending-issues-romney-ryan-are-not-worth-standing-up-for
  3. Forty Articles I wrote about Obama - http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2012/08/president-obama-articles-since-2008.html

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Mike Ghouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. The blog www.TheGhousediary.comis updated daily

Thursday, August 23, 2012

No Jewish People Without Israel


Why the future of American Judaism as we know it depends on the survival of the Jewish state? This article is a must read for all those who want to understand Jews and Israel, it is one of the most comprehensive articles I have read and gives an insight into understanding Jews. The story is not only of Jewish people, but most other minorities can relate with this experience:

I have written my own piece at Huffington post - Who am I to worry about Israelis and Palestinians? What inspires me to be involved in the Israel Palestine conflict? The following is the story of my struggle to see a cohesive world, the story will take you through different emotions but at the end, I hope you feel a sense of completeness of the story. Due to its length, it is a three part article. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/israel-and-palestine-moving-forward_b_1258261.html


Here are some of the most powerful excerpts from the article below.

The following Paragraph is precisely my understanding and reasons for the support of Israel, mind you not at the cost of Justice to Palestinians but with fairness to all the ones in the conflict. I am baffled with the similarity of my articulation for the last several years and the following piece that has just appeared on August 20. 2012.

“That newfound confidence has historical antecedents, of course: American Jews’ confidence resembles that of the Jews of Cordoba—who were forcibly converted, burned alive at the stake, and summarily expelled in the Spanish Inquisition. The Jews of Berlin in 1930 also believed they had found the ultimate enlightened home, that the dark days of Europe would never return. And in the space of but a few years, German Jewry was erased.

“In ways we do not sufficiently recognize, Israel has changed the existential condition of Jews everywhere, even in America. Without the State of Israel, the self-confidence and sense of belonging that American Jews now take for granted would quickly disappear.

A home is where on drops all the guards and feels a sense of comfort and security. I have expressed the same sentiments in many of my writings including the one at this blog.

“Israel, like it or not, is not just a homeland to Israelis. It is also a “state unto the Diaspora”; the state that, even from afar, secures the life and instills the passions of Jews all over the world.

Indeed, that is the case with most immigrants, they feel home where they were born and their ancestors came from. Most of the first generation Indians call India their home, like wise it is the same with British, Irish, Italian, German, Japanese, Pakistanis, Arabs, Mexicans, Chinese, Iraqis and others. For the first Generation of Jewish people after Israel was created, even though they were born here, Israel is home to them. It is the second generation and the ones after that whose sense of home is in America, the second generation continues to struggle but for the third generation and up - it is America first, America is home. There will be nothing else in their psyche, other than what would be injected into them.

“But then, as this thinking goes, if Israel refuses to budge, it is Israel that is responsible for the impasse. Faced with a choice between loyalty to their humanitarian values or to their parents’ Zionism, they have chosen the former.

I love the above it, "Loyalty to their humanitarian values" - is a profound statement applicable to 2nd generation of Muslims, Jews, Immigrant Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, Buddhists and other immigrants. This is inherent in all humanity no matter where we live. I consider that an American Value. Unlike all other nations, Americans values are egalitarian, humanitarian and about treating others fairly and equitably. Its part of American psyche and I am blessed to have that sense flow through veins.

“Sensitive to the underdog everywhere, and with a deep-seated belief in fairness, they insisted and continue to insist upon balancing the scales. The Palestinians, they decided, needed a state.

This is the core value of all religions, but a very passionate value of America. It is the case with all Americans who are born here. Indeed the follow paragraphs also represent Muslims, and other immigrants in America.

“But amazingly, 50 percent of those 35 years old and younger said that Israel’s destruction would not be a personal tragedy.

“Ours is the first generation in which the centrality of Zion in Jewish dreams is beginning to fade. It is fading rapidly, and we know why. Part of it has to do with the fact that Israel’s supporters have framed the conversation about the Jewish State in terms of the conflict with the Palestinians. Even among knowledgeable and committed Jews, an oral Rorschach test in response to the word “Israel” evokes responses such as “checkpoints,” “occupation,” or “settlements”—as though the conflict were all that Israel is about.

I hope a day will come in the world, where everyone feels home wherever they are. It is a two sided effort. I am passionate about justice and freedom and Israel Palestine is an issue that I hope to contribute to bring security to Jews and justice to Palestinians.

Mike Ghouse is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day - This article is at - http://israel-palestine-dialogue.blogspot.com/2012/08/no-jewish-people-without-israel.html as well as the source below:


No Jewish People Without Israel

Why the future of American Judaism as we know it depends on the survival of the Jewish state By Daniel Gordis|August 20, 2012 7:00 AM|

Friday, August 10, 2012

Krishna's Janmashtami


Janmashtami is celebration of Sri Krishna’s birthday, the man who is the 8th Avatar (representation) of Vishnu; meaning the facet of creator that manages the preservation aspect of life.



Hinduism sees God in three broad categories;
Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma reflects the creator form of God, and Vishnu represents the preserver aspect of creation that inspires one to be righteous, and Shiva brings a finite ending to life. It is a part of the life cycle; every human is born, lives on, and finally disintegrates. Much of Hindu philosophy revolves around the preservation aspect of life; two of the most common and well known reflections are in the persona of Lord Krishna and Lord Rama. Most people including some Hindus see this as Multiple Gods, it ain’t, and it’s the same God seen in different lights.

Please visit to read the full story!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-ghouse/sri-krishna-birthday-celebration-janmashtami_b_1762997.html


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

TEXAS FAITH: Is the Sikh shooting Christian terrorism?

I am pleased to share a few thoughts on long term solutions in the light of Sikh Massacre; this is in conjunction with my column at Dallas Morning news.



As an American, Indian and a Muslim, I stand by the Sikh community and hope to find sustainable solutions to prevent shameless events like this from happening. As Americans we need to come together to build an America where no one needs to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of the other.
Kindly join us for a candlelight vigil on August 8th at the Sikh Temple of North Texas at 506 Gatewood Rd, Garland, Texas 75043 in Garland, TX at 8 p.m.

Blaming will not bring the lives back or solve the problems, pushing the bigots to the corner will not do it, engaging (there is no them, it is all of us) them in a normal day to day life has a chance of nurturing goodwill.

We need to ask ourselves, am I capable of making friends with fellow Americans from different backgrounds, races, faiths and ethnicities? If I am reluctant, biased or bent on blaming others, then half of the problem is me. If I have it, they have it. Then I need to shed my bias first.

Here is an article on the topic at Dallas Morning News’s Texas Faith Section, and God willing there will be an article with statements from a few about the incident in a few days.

Texas Faith is a weekly column at Dallas Morning News managed by Editors William McKenzie and Wayne Slater, the material is contributed by several panelists, for all responses please visit http://religionblog.dallasnews.com/2012/08/texas-faith-is-the-sikh-shooting-christian-terrorism.html/

MIKE GHOUSE, President, Foundation for Pluralism, Dallas
The term “Christian Terrorism” is one of the most dangerous terms to bring into currency. It is as ridiculous as “Islamic Terrorism” or Jewish and Hindu Terrorism. I deplore Juergensmeyer for floating it, as it amounts to advocating an eye for an eye, making the whole world blind.

We continue to blame Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism or other religions as though they are individuals who can be slapped, hanged, annihilated, beat up, killed or punished for the wrong doing. If we can’t do that, then why bark at religion?

Every piece of matter and life is programmed to seek balance and justice respectively. Blaming a religion is passing the buck to an intangible non-punishable entity, thus deliberately perpetuating injustice. Justice is the key to harmony and peaceful co-existence in the society.


Individuals are always responsible for the bloodshed and not the religions. By punishing the individual for the wrong doing, we serve justice and restore trust and cohesiveness in the society. We need to go a step further, and find the individuals who inspire men like Wade Michael Page to massacre the Sikhs in the temple or the senseless shooting in Colorado.

Hate is one of the sources of disrupting peace in a society and it is our duty to track down the source of such hate and work on mitigating it. We have an obligation to maintain law and order and faithfully guard the safety of every citizen.

Politicians and religious leaders need to be aware, that as a civilized society, we can hold them accountable for making irresponsible statements.

If we learn to respect the otherness of others, and accept the genetic uniqueness of each one of us, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge. Ask yourselves, what is my contribution to America?

As an American, Indian and a Muslim, I stand by the Sikh community and hope to find long term sustainable solutions to prevent shameless events like this from happening.

As Americans we need to come together to build an America where no one needs to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of the other.


URL - http://theghousediary.blogspot.com/2012/08/texas-faith-is-sikh-shooting-christian.html

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Please visit the site http://standingupforothers.blogspot.com/
No American has to live in apprehension or fear of the other. There are solutions; here is a trailer of the movie in making: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMXsTo4VYh8&feature=youtu.be

Mike Ghouse is committed to building a Cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. He is a professional speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, civic affairs, Islam, India, Israel, peace and justice. Mike is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News and regularly at Huffington post, and several other periodicals across the world. The blog www.TheGhousediary.comis updated daily.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sikhs, Muslims, Drones, and Guilt By Association


http://www.progressive.org/sikhs-muslims-drones-guilt-by-association
By Deepa Kumar, August 6, 2012
The tragic death of six Sikhs in suburban Milwaukee sheds light on the ugly ways that bigotry works.

Since 9/11, Sikhs have often been the target of hate crimes.
Balbir Singh Sodhi, a gas station owner in Arizona, was the first such casualty. He was murdered just four days after 9/11 because, his murderer said, he was “dark-skinned, bearded and wore a turban.”

The hate crimes against Sikhs have continued over the last decade. Sikh temples have been vandalized, and according to Representative Joseph Crowley (D-NY), two Sikh men were murdered last year in hate crimes.

This is how cultural racism operates: anyone who bears the markers of the “enemy” must necessarily be guilty. For members of the Sikh community, this bizarre attitude is baffling. Some have gone out of their way to insist that Sikhs are not Muslim and should therefore not be targeted in these ways.
Yet, the horrific murders in Wisconsin should teach us that racism is about the dehumanization of an entire group of people: It is the worst kind of guilt by association.

If the Sikh community is not to blame for the events of 9/11, neither is the Muslim community.
It was not Islam that caused the 19 hijackers to carry out the attacks. It was the nihilistic political views of those particular assassins.

Similarly, it was not something intrinsic to white American males that precipitated this attack on the Sikhs in Wisconsin. It was the neo-Nazi attitudes of this particular white gunman.

Page was a white supremacist and the leader of a white-power band named End Apathy, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. He was even supposed to have had a tattoo of 9/11 on his upper right arm.
The context for this crime is the climate of prejudice in the United States that “the war on terror” has created.
Central to “the war on terror” is the ideology of Islamophobia. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) has held hearings hyping the risk of radical Islam here at home. Rightwing politicians such as Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich have also used reckless rhetoric targeting the entire Muslim American community.

In U.S. military policy, Islamophobia allows the United States to carry out drone strikes against Muslim men perceived to be terrorists in several countries around the world with impunity. Many victims of these “kill lists” are not terrorists, but innocent people.

Dehumanization and guilt by association enable the United States to kill innocent people in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.

Dehumanization and guilt by association enable a killer to gun down worshipers in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
As we mourn the latest killing, we need to denounce this dehumanization and guilt by association. They are the handmaidens of the murderer.

Deepa Kumar is the author of Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire. She is associate professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at Rutgers University.

Islamophobia, Sikhophobia and Media Profiling


Great piece on 9/11
Mike Ghouse

Islamophobia, Sikhophobia and Media Profiling

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/simran-jeet-singh/islamophobia-sikhophobia-and-media-profiling_b_1654692.html


On Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks shook the American nation to its core. Nineteen individuals associated with al Qaeda coordinated to hijack four passenger jets and use them as weapons of mass destruction. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 claimed approximately 3,000 lives, including all 256 passengers on the four planes, 125 people at the Pentagon and more than 2,600 people at the World Trade Center.
The global community watched the destruction and devastation with horror. Law enforcement agencies focused attention on detecting and preventing further terrorism on American soil, while news media scrambled to collect, synthesize and present an enormous amount of information in a remarkably short period of time. Photos and videos of the destruction flooded the news media, and these representations characterized the terrorists responsible for the attacks as fitting a Muslim, Arab or Middle Eastern profile. As a result, Islamophobia began to sweep across the nation.
Reports and studies demonstrate that an increasing mistrust of Muslims fueled a violent post-9/11 backlash throughout the U.S. Within a week of the terrorist attacks, Arabs, Muslims and South Asians registered more than 1,000 incidents of criminal discrimination, including murder, assault, vandalism and verbal harassment. According to crime statistics compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), anti-Muslim hate crimes in the U.S. increased by 1,600 percent between 2000 and 2001. Furthermore, a study funded by the U.S. Department of Justice found that approximately 75 percent of hate crimes are not reported in official FBI statistics.
It is also important to note that Islamophobic violence is not a thing of the past, and unfortunately, we don't have to look far to find a tragic example. A couple of months ago, five children in San Diego lost their mother in a hate-crime. Shaima Alawadi, an Iraqi-American, was brutally beaten to death in her own home. Her daughter found her corpse in the living room, along with a note that read: "go back to your country, you're a terrorist."
In August of 2010, Time Magazine ran an article about the controversy surrounding the construction of an Islamic center near Ground-Zero, and the cover of that particular issue asked the question: "Is America Islamophobic?"
The national attention on President Obama's religious background, the scandal related to NYPD surveillance of local Muslims, Quran burning displays in Florida -- these are all recent examples of how Islamophobia operates within our society.
Strikingly, Muslims have not been the only targets of Islamophobic violence. A number of different American communities have been impacted by Islamophobia, and practitioners of the Sikh religion make up one of the most adversely affected minority groups. The distinctive physical appearance of typical Sikh males in particular -- brown skin, turban, beard -- correlates with the stereotypical images of terrorists projected in western media. Scholars have recently described this perceived relationship as a racialization of religious identity. This process has led to a conflation of Sikhs and Muslims, and therefore, has produced a corollary to Islamophobia -- Sikhophobia.
In fact, the first casualty of a hate crime in post-9/11 America was a Sikh-American named Balbir Singh Sodhi. According to official reports, his murderer said he killed Sodhi because "he was dark-skinned, bearded, and wore a turban."
In other words, Sodhi fit the profile of "the Islamic other."
With law enforcement and news media fanning the flames, the increasing sense of Islamophobia has led Sikh-Americans to be publicly profiled as suspicious and threatening. For instance, the day after the 9/11 attacks, a turbaned Sikh male named Sher Singh was traveling from Boston to New York on an Amtrak train when it stopped in Providence, R.I. The FBI had sent federal agents, local police and bomb-sniffing dogs to arrest him. Officers rushed to the platform, pointed rifles at Singh and shouted "Get your f--- hands up." The officers removed him from the train at gunpoint and handcuffed him. According to a report by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, bystanders gathered around Sher Singh during the time of his arrest and began shouting obscenities and hate-speech, such as: "Kill him!" "Burn in Hell!" and "You killed my brother!" Strikingly, Sher Singh reported that one of the arresting officers joined in the vitriol by asking, "How's Osama bin Laden?"
Neha Singh Gohil and Dawinder S. Sidhu have pointed out that the arrest of this Sikh-American male, as well as its widespread publicization, wrought major damage to the image of Sikhs in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.
"News stations replayed the video of his arrest in connection with its coverage of the attacks, thus associating Singh and other turbaned Sikhs with the planners of the attacks. ... Thus any connection between terrorists and a turbaned male with a long flowing beard was further embedded in the hearts and minds of emotional Americans. On the contrary, no media coverage followed news of Sher Singh's release, just three hours later. There was no reason -- beyond the turban and long beard -- for the public or law enforcement personnel to be concerned about his presence on a train. In other words, he did nothing to arouse suspicion, aside from looking the way he did in a public space."
Despite his innocence and relatively quick release, news stations continued to replay the arrest and detention of Sher Singh for the next three days, and this continuous loop helped shape and perpetuate basic stereotypes of "the Islamic other." Moreover, the mutually reinforcing actions of racial profiling by the federal government and news media offered the general public with a sort of sanctioning of Islamophobia and Sikhophobia.
The consequences of these attitudes have been severe and costly. Since 9/11, tens of thousands of Americans have been alienated and victimized. The overly simplistic profile of "the Islamic other" has done more harm than good, and it has negatively affected Muslims and non-Muslims alike. From job discrimination and school bullying to racial profiling and police surveillance, the various manifestations of Islamophobia continue to divide the nation and increase tensions.
It's time to leave behind our Islamophobic, Sikhophobic and other-phobic tendencies and look at one another as fellow human beings.
We can't afford to produce more examples like Sher Singh, Shaima Alawadi and Balbir Singh Sodhi.

Follow Simran Jeet Singh on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@SimranColumbia

We Are All Muslims: A Sikh Response to Islamophobia in the NYPD and Beyond


A great example for standing up for each other.
Mike Ghouse
We Are All Muslims: A Sikh Response to Islamophobia in the NYPD and Beyond
As a brown-skinned Sikh with a turban on my head and a long beard on my chin, I deal with my fair share of racist and xenophobic harassment regularly, including in my home of New York City, the most diverse city on the planet. It usually takes the form of someone yelling or perhaps mumbling at me: Osama bin Laden/terrorist/al Qaeda/he's going to blow up the [insert location]/go back to your country/etc. Less often, someone might threaten me, get in my face, or in one case, pull off my turban on the subway.
My experience is not terribly unique for a turban-wearing Sikh in the United States. Especially since 9/11, we Sikhs have become all too familiar with racial epithets, bullying and violence. Just last month, a gurdwara in Michigan was vandalized with hostile anti-Muslim graffiti. Last year, in what we can assume was a hate attack, two elderly Sikh men were shot and killed while taking an evening walk in a quiet neighborhood in Elk Grove, Calif.
Many talk about the prevalence of anti-Sikh attacks as a case of "mistaken identity." Sikhs mistaken for Muslims. Indeed, we are by and large attacked because of anti-Muslim bigotry. The Michigan gurdwara was targeted for that reason, and most of us who experience racist harassment as Sikhs in the U.S. experience it through the vilification of Muslims and/or Arabs.
Ironically, many Sikhs themselves vilify Muslims or at least distance themselves from the Muslim community at every possible opportunity. I remember in the days, weeks and months after 9/11, the first thing out of the mouths of many Sikhs when talking to the press, to politicians or even to their neighbors was, "We are not Muslims." While this is of course a fact, the implication of the statement if it stops there is: You're attacking the wrong community. Don't come after us, go after the Muslims! Sikhs believe in equality and freedom and love our country and our government. But Muslims? We don't like them either.
The roots of anti-Muslim sentiment in the Sikh community run deep in South Asia, from the days of the tyranny of Mughal emperors such as Aurangzeb in the 17th century to the bloodshed in 1947 when our homeland of Punjab was sliced into two separate nation-states. Despite these historical realities, Sikhism has always been clear that neither Muslims as a people nor Islam as a religion were ever the enemy. Tyranny was the enemy. Oppression was the enemy. Sectarianism was the enemy. In fact, the Guru Granth Sahib, our scriptures that are the center of Sikh philosophy and devotion, contains the writings of Muslim (Sufi) saints alongside those of our own Sikh Gurus. Nevertheless, historical memory breeds misguided hostility and mistrust of Muslims, especially in the contemporary global context of ever-increasing, mainstream Islamophobia.
What is it going to take for Sikhs and Muslims to join together in solidarity against the common enemies of racist harassment and violence, racial and religious profiling, and Islamophobic bigotry? Perhaps the recently exposed NYPD spying program (along with the "education" officers have received about Islam) will serve as a wake up call to my community (and other communities for that matter) about how bad things have really gotten. While we Sikhs confront bigotry on a daily basis from our neighbors, classmates, co-workers, employers and strangers on the street, our Muslim American counterparts are systematically targeted by our own government. (I should note that, of course, Sikhs too are profiled by law enforcement in less repressive, though still troubling, ways, especially at airport security).
Sikhism was born hundreds of years ago in part to stand up for the most oppressed and fight for the freedom and liberation of all people. If this isn't reason enough for us to make the cause of rooting out Islamophobia from the NYPD and other law enforcement and government agencies our own, we only have to return to the bleak reality we Sikhs in the U.S. still face right now in 2012. A time when gurdwaras are still vandalized with anti-Muslim statements, Sikh kids are still being bullied and tormented at school every day, and I am called Osama bin Laden while walking down a Manhattan street for the 258th time (no I'm not counting).
"We are not Muslims" hasn't been so effective for our community, has it? Even if we do so in a positive way that does not condone attacks on Muslims, simply educating the public about the fact that we are a distinct community and that we in fact "are not Muslim" will not get to the root of the problem. As long as we live in a country (and world) where an entire community (in this case, Muslims) is targeted, spied on and vilified, we will not be safe, we will not be free.
As Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his letter from a Birmingham jail in 1963, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny."
I hope the NYPD's blatant assault on the civil rights of our Muslim sisters and brothers propels us Sikhs as well as all people of conscience to action. Perhaps "We are not Muslims" will become "We are all Muslims," as we come together to eradicate Islamophobic bigotry in all its forms.