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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

IS SIKH-LED PRAYER AT RNC A HOLLOW GESTURE OR A STEP FORWARD?

Valarie Kaur
Valarie Kaur
In front of a crowd of 15,000 at the Republican Convention in Tampa Bay on Aug. 29, Ishwar Singh made history as the first-ever Sikh American to deliver an invocation at a national convention. 

Singh is the president of the Sikh Society of Central Florida. Singh shared the platform with several amputees who had lost limbs in American wars. He asked for protection of law enforcement and for residents of the Gulf Coast, who were bracing for battle against Hurricane Isaac.

But in a CNN interview after Singh’s invocation, Civil rights activist Valarie Kaur denounced the inclusion of Ishwar Singh in the RNC lineup as a hollow gesture.

“If Mitt Romney and Republican leaders want the historic Sikh invocation to be more than tokenism — and are serious about preventing another Oak Creek — they cannot continue to let hateful speech within their own party go unchecked,” stated Kaur, director of the documentary, “Divided We Fall,” which examines racial bias against Sikh Americans in the aftermath of 9/11.

“GOP leaders have not only stood silent while fellow Republicans fan the flames of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim bias, they have given them the megaphone,” said Kaur in the CNN interview. “Singh will speak on the same stage as Sheriff Joe Arpaio, infamous for shaming and rounding up undocumented immigrants, saying that it's an honor to be compared to the KKK. Newt Gingrich, who is presiding over ‘Newt University’ at the RNC, has compared Muslims to Nazis.” 

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