Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs are targets of violence: Barack Obama

US President Barack Obama has acknowledged that even today a number of people from the South Asian origin — particularly those from Hindu, Muslim and Sikh communities — are becoming victims of hate crimes in America.

“Even today, South Asian Americans, especially those who are Muslim, Hindu and Sikh, are targets of suspicion and violence,” Obama said in a presidential proclamation that recognised the contribution of Asian-Americans in the socio-political and economic milieu of the country.

“Like America itself, the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) community draws strength from the diversity of its many distinct cultures – each with vibrant histories and unique perspectives to bring to our national life,” Obama said.

“Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have helped build, defend and strengthen our Nation – as farm workers and railroad laborers; as entrepreneurs and scientists; as artists, activists, and leaders of government.

They have gone beyond, embodying the soaring aspirations of the American spirit,” Obama said.

Obama reiterated his determination to pass comprehensive immigration reform that would modernise the legal immigration system, create a pathway to earned citizenship for undocumented immigrants, hold employers accountable, and strengthen the border security.

He said with courage, grit, and an abiding belief in American ideals, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have challenged the Nation to be better.

“Nearly 5 years ago, I re-established the White House Initiative on AAPIs. The Initiative addresses disparities in health care, education, and economic opportunity by ensuring Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders receive equal access to government programs and services,” Obama said.

UN Human Rights Decision Backs French Sikhs

News Agencies – January 13, 2012

A Sikh man in France has won the backing of the United Nations Human Rights Committee in his fight over religious headgear. It said France was violating Sikhs’ religious freedom by forcing them to remove their turbans when having photos taken for passports and ID cards. Ranjit Singh, 76, said he had turned to the UN because he found the French policy disrespectful and unnecessary.

Sikhs in France have been fighting a long battle over the turban. In 2004 France passed a law banning religious signs in schools. This included turbans and Muslim headscarves.

In 2008 the European Court of Human Rights dismissed an appeal on grounds of security.

It said that whilst Shingara Singh’s religious rights had been infringed, France was justified to ban the turban on the driver’s licence photo because the turban posed a security risk of fraud and falsification. That is when Ranjit Singh decided to file a case to the UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC). It has now judged that a turban does not pose a risk to security.

Sikh man loses right to wear turban in driving license photo after EU court ruling

A Sikh man who wanted the right to wear a turban while being photographed for his French drivers’ licence has lost his case in the European Court of Human Rights.

Shingara Mann Singh, a French national, lost a series of appeals in France against the authorities who refused to issue a new license with a photograph of him wearing a turban.

Under French regulations, motorists must appear ‘bareheaded and facing forward’ in their license photographs, but the Sikh religion requires men to wear a turban at all times.

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