SMART Speaks at National Press Conference Alongside Other Minority Groups Targeted After Attacks

September 20th, 2001

Germantown, MD – The Sikh Mediawatch and Resource Task Force (SMART), a national Sikh American civil rights advocacy group, rallied with South Asian, Muslim and Arab Americans near the capitol at the Japanese War Memorial yesterday, calling for Americans to stop victimizing minorities who resemble the terrorists who committed the vicious assaults on America.

Tejpal Singh Chawla, the SMART speaker at the event, briefly recounted the violent attacks against Sikh Americans since Tuesday’s attacks. “A turban does not signify a terrorist,” Chawla said during his remarks alongside speaks from the Arab American Institute and the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans.

Many of the speakers remarked on the double attack that is affecting Sikh, Muslim, Arab and South Asian Americans, first being attacked by outside terrorists as Americans, and then being attacked from within by ignorant Americans. Speakers also commented that many people are currently afraid to speak their native languages in public, wear traditional clothing, or even leave their homes in fear of assaults or harassment.

On the same day as the event, a young Sikh man from Maryland was shot at after from a passing car on the highway.There have been approximately upwards of 200 hate crimes against Sikhs reported in the United States.

SMART Executive Director, Manjit Singh, commented after the press conference yesterday, “We hope that this new positive media attention will begin to lessen the violent attacks against our community, so that we can begin to focus all of our efforts on helping our country after this tragedy.

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