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US Gurdwaras to launch campaign to improve Sikhs image

PTI August 21, 2014 11:08 IST
Washington: Amidst increasing incidents of hate crimes against Sikhs, Gurdwaras in the US have decided to launch an intensive national campaign running into $5 million to improve the image of the community in America.

Representatives from over 100 gurdwaras in the US held a meeting here over the weekend to discuss the strategy, wherein a detailed presentation on this was made by Geoff Garin of Hart Research, who served as Hillary Clinton's former top political strategist, and Isaac Baker of AKPD Message and Media, President Barack Obama's media firm.

The two have been hired by the Sikh community leaders to help change the perceptions about them in the US.

Garin gave the meeting's participants an exclusive update on the National Sikh Campaign's groundbreaking messaging research that will underpin the effort and inform the community how it can effectively communicate to the American public, a media release said.

"The Sikh community in US has never been more educated, more wealthy, and more successful than today and we've also never had this many Gurdwara leaders together in a room. We have never been more primed to do something big," said Gurwin Ahuja, executive director of the National Sikh Campaign.

"This is perhaps the first time a thorough scientific data will be made available to the community within and without to set the next path of our campaign," he said.

According to a media release, Sikh leaders worked together to create a realistic region by region breakdown of US gurdwaras and fundraising strategies were also discussed and approved to reach an overall target of $5 million.

Dr Rajwant Singh, president of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, said the consensus was that there is a critical need for this kind of media strategy for the Sikh community.

"All possible efforts need to be made to include as many gurdwaras as possible in the network as partners. Our goal is to keep the focus on introducing Sikhism and the Sikh identity while showing the positive contribution of the community in the media," he said.

Dr. Kulwant Singh Dhaliwal, president of the Oak Creek Gurdwara from Wisconsin, said the aim of the campaign is to counteract the negative image and perceptions Americans have about Sikhs and Sikhism and create a positive image of Sikhs and our faith.

Sikh representatives came from the following states: Illinois, Connecticut, Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, California, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, Indiana, Delaware, and over 70 people joined from others states over the phone.