SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento-area Sikhs may call America home, but they are looking for help from Washington to fight discrimination overseas.
Local Sikh leaders met with Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) on Thursday evening to raise concerns over alleged discrimination and persecution against Sikhs – and other minorities – in India.
“We are always being targeted,” said Balbir Dhillon, president of the Sacramento Sikh Temple.
He says American Sikhs continue to struggle with the violent attacks against their community, whose turbans and long beards make them easy targets. But Thursday night, the focus was on India.
The group addressed the current conditions of minorities in India, including Muslims and Christians, who they say continue to be blacklisted under India’s new right-wing government. They believe, given McClintock’s record, he can be their voice in Washington.
“He has championed the cause of minorities heavily persecuted in India,” explained Bhajan Singh Pinder, the founder of the Organization For Minorities of India.
“It’s a just cause. I can’t put it any more simply than that,” said McClintock.
He says, given the growing role of India in international politics, holding their government accountable is crucial, adding that first-hand testimony from local groups about issues abroad can be valuable in helping to shape and prioritize U.S. foreign policy.
As for issues Sikhs face in his district, McClintock says more education about American Sikhs, who are often confused with Muslims, can help stop the growing hate crimes against their community.
“I think we need to educate our fellow Americans on the commonality of the Sikh religion and the American founding principles,” said McClintock.
And despite McClintock’s often tough stance on illegal immigration and his demands that minorities do more to assimilate into American society, many Sikh leaders, many who are immigrants themselves, still believe they have a strong partner in their congressman.
“We feel Tom is with us. Anytime we call him, he is there,” said Dhillon.
While the topic was human rights violation in India, McClintock didn’t miss the opportunity to speak on the economy, talking about the need for tax reform and deregulation.