The US has assured Sikh community of their safety and security in the wake of a spur in hate crimes against the community following a shooting in San Bernardino that killed 14 people.
"President Obama stands with, he stands behind you and he stands in solidarity with you. And we all have a responsibility to remind Americans what makes us great," Valerie Jarrett, Senior political advisor to the US President told a gathering of Sikhs at a White House celebration of Guru Nanak's birth-anniversary yesterday.
Over 125 Sikhs from all over the country joined the White House celebrations, a regular feature of the Obama Administration. The programme included a Sikh hymn on classical instruments like Taus, Dilruba and Jodi performed by Manpreet Singh and Raghubir Singh from New Jersey. The Keynote address was given by Professor Amritjit Singh of Ohio University and discussed about "Guru Nanak: Equality and Social Justice". Welcoming Sikhs to the White House, Jarrett hoped that they would feel at home at the White House.
"You are part of such a vital member of our community and a big and vibrant part of what makes our country so great. So when your community comes under attack, we are all in danger," she said. "When your place of worship is vandalised, or temples churches and mosques should be uneasy as well. It is in times like these when we should step back and need to focus on the teachings of Guru Nanak," Jarrett said. "For when we focus on the values that bring us together as a nation, we can accomplish so much more than we are divided," she said.
Welcoming the assurance from the White House, Dr Rajwant Singh, chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, said this sends an assuring signal to the entire community that this nation stands behind it. "President Obama gesture to hold Guru Nanak's gurpurab every year at the White House displays his love for the community," he said.
The American-Sikh community, numbering nearly half-a- million, has seen a spur in hate-crimes against them after a Pakistani-origin couple who federal officials say were inspired by Islamist extremists opened indiscriminate firing on December 2 at a holiday luncheon and killed 14 people. Last week, a Sikh temple in California was vandalised and a group of Sikh men were harassed by security staff and denied access to a stadium in San Diego city in California for an American football game because they were wearing turbans. Earlier in 2012, a white supremacist has opened fire at a Sikh temple in Milwaukee, killing six people.