Sikh community hails California Guv for signing pro-Sikh bills

Washington: The Sikh community in the United States has hailed the California Governor Edmund G Brown for signing into law two legislations protecting the rights of the Sikhs and including information about the religion in High School curriculum in the State.

While one of them updates the California high school curriculum so that every student in the state learns about the history, tradition and theology of Sikhism and California Sikhs, the other clarifies the ‘Fair Employment and Housing Act’ (FEHA) to ensure that employees receive equal protection under law, specifically protecting religious observances such as the turban, hijab and yarmulke.

Terming it as an “important step” for the California Sikh community, Satnam Singh Chahal, president and spokesperson of North American Punjabi Association (NAPA), said that when the law will be enforced then this framework will ensure the California students learn about Sikhism and Sikh contributions, thereby increasing appreciation for diversity and reducing ignorance of the sort that leads to bullying and bias.

The legislations were signed into law by Brown on the northern footsteps of State Capitol building in Sacramento, California, over the weekend at a unity rally organised by North American Punjabi Association (NAPA).

Organised in memory of those who were killed in a tragic Wisconsin Gurdwara shooting last month, the event was attended by several hundred peoples from different faiths including the Sikh Community.

The Indian Consul General, San Francisco, N Parthasarathi, called it a “historic day” as the two Bills signed by Brown would go a long way in promoting goodwill and awareness about various communities including the Sikh community.

“These would pave the way for school children in California to learn about various religions including the Sikh religion,” he said. The bills augur well for hard working and industrious people of Indian origin, Parthasarathi added.

“Sikh Americans are loyal citizens who have been targeted because of widespread ignorance of their religion and culture. The bills I sign today aim to ensure that Californians learn about our Sikh citizens as well as protect all of us from job discrimination based on religious observances,” he said.

Chahal said the other legislation (AB1964) will sharply reduce job discrimination against Sikhs and other religious minorities and guarantee equal employment opportunity to all workers in California.