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WSC-AR Meets with Conference of European Churches to Discuss Hate Crimes

It is a sad mark of the persistence of ethnic, cultural, and religious bigotry that so many people continue to paint all Muslims as fanatics and terrorists, as evidenced by violence against individual Muslims and their religious institutions. It is equally disturbing that the same brush is often applied to non-Muslims of North African, Middle Eastern, and Indian origin, particularly to Sikhs.

By World Sikh Council - America Region

The Secretary General of World Sikh Council - America Region (WSC-AR), Dr. Tarunjit Singh, met with the President of the Conference of European Churches, Rev. Jean-Arnold de Clermont, on July 11, 2005 to share concerns over the recent increase in hate crimes against Sikhs and Muslims in Europe following the London bomb attacks.

The meeting was held in Indianapolis, Indiana during the annual conference of the National Association of Ecumenical and Interreligious Staff (NAEIS), July 9 - 13.

Dr. Singh shared with Rev. Clermont the recent attacks on religious minorities, including Sikhs and Muslims, in Europe and called upon the Conference of European Churches to work more vigorously with religious minorities of Europe in reducing religious intolerance.

Rev. Clermont expressed dismay at the incidents of hate and violence in Europe and offered to work with Sikhs in Europe.

Both leaders agreed that the Sikh and Christian communities of Europe need to be able to work together on issues of common interest to prevent religious intolerance and hate crimes.

The NAEIS annual conference also adopted a resolution on July 12 that stated, “As we unequivocally condemn that horrible act [terrorist attack in London], we are equally repulsed that others would use violence to exact revenge. This violence goes against all that our religious communities teach us about embracing the hands of our neighbors and living in peace and respect. In this challenging time, we call on all people of faith and goodwill to engage in more inter-religious dialogue and collaborative action and pray that this may lead to greater understanding and awareness.”

Rev. Clermont and Dr. Singh also discussed the French ban on religious symbols in pubic schools. Rev. Clermont, who is also the President of the French Protestant Federation, called upon the French Sikh community to work with his organization in resolving the issue. During the NAEIS conference, Dr. Singh had expressed concern over the adoption of similar laws by other European nations.

In response to the small explosions reported today from London, the WSC-AR calls upon Sikh Gurdwaras, organizations, and individuals in the US and Europe to be cautious of incidents of hate, prejudice, and violence, and to promptly report all such occurrences to the local police and civil rights organizations.

The Conference of European Churches is a fellowship of some 125 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches from all countries of Europe, plus 40 associated organizations. It was founded in 1959. It has offices in Geneva, Brussels and Strasbourg.

The WSC-AR is a representative and elected body of Sikh Gurdwaras and institutions in the United States. Its members include 37 Gurdwaras (Sikh places of worship) and other Sikh institutions across the nation.

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