Sikhs in the United States have raised a record-breaking $400,000 (£286,000, €364,000) for a national media campaign that aims to generate awareness and understanding about the Sikh religion. The project was started by the National Sikh Campaign amid increasing hate crimes against Sikh people in the country.
The fundraiser marks the highest amount of money invested into a campaign to raise awareness about the Sikh faith. The money is expected to be spent on an extensive media campaign that will include TV adverts and national press coverage. Additionally, the organisation hopes to conduct research that will explore misconceptions towards the Sikh community and aim to establish how to challenge the existing attitudes.
Kaval Kaur, national charter member of NSC, said: "This is a historic moment in the history of the Sikh community in America. Never before have we had the opportunity to tell our story to our story to our fellow Americans around the country and that time has come now."
According to NDTV, NSC's fundraising gala in San Francisco Bay Area revealed President Obama's former campaign media team and television adverts created by AKPD were being used in the campaign. A number of leading Sikh entrepreneurs are also believed to have attended the event, including Silicon Valley IT professionals, medical professionals, and officials from local Gurudwaras.
The NSC noted that despite Sikhs having "made great contributions to society", their stories of success are never told. They also said that the majority of Americans were unable to accurately identify a Sikh, often leading to misunderstanding of the religion. The campaign emphasies that "Sikh values are American values".
Rajwant Singh, co-founder of NSC, said: "We, Sikhs, need to change the narrative and present the correct image of who we are, showcasing how we are totally integrated in the American society and not only as victims."
On 1 January an elderly Sikh man was stabbed to death in Fresno City, California. A number of people in the local area believed that Gurcharan Singh Gill, 68, was attacked because of his ethnicity. Gill's death came days after another elderly Sikh man was brutally assaulted in Fresno. Amrik Singh Bal, 68, was waiting on the side of the road when two Caucasian men are believed to have attacked him.