A man has written a well-worded response to those who aren't able to differentiate between Sikhs and Muslims. The Facebook post came in the wake of an increasing number of hate crimes against Sikh Americans, who are allegedly being confused for Muslim terrorists.
Harmeet Singh, a Sikh man living in the United States, took to Facebook on 14 December to post his thoughts on the recent attacks against men of his faith. He started his post by acknowledging that the "average American" is unable to tell the difference between a Sikh and a Muslim, with many of them associating the Sikh turban and a beard with Islamic State (Daesh), the Taliban or Osama Bin Laden.
However, Singh then writes: "That's okay because the average Sikh does not have fear in their vocabulary. We are not the victims of mistaken identity, we are in fact doing exactly what our identity was supposed to do. It was supposed to absorb hate and ignorance so others would not have to."
The Facebook post goes on to say that the Sikh faith teaches them tolerance, how to love their enemies, and how to protect everyone around them, even those that they do not agree with. Singh notes that Sikh men and women are taught from a young age that their "identity comes with responsibility" and "challenges" and that Sikh people are prepared for the hate crimes that they might have to face.
Thousands have viewed the comments on Facebook, with many commending Singh's words and agreeing with what he wrote. Some have called it the "best post on Facebook" that they have come across and others have encouraged Singh to continue "educating the ignorant people".
"You may feel big by attacking us, but with each blow you only strengthen our resolve," Singh wrote. "Yes we look different but we are not foreign to this type of treatment. Everywhere a Sikh goes they know they stand out, they know their identity comes before all else that is presented about them, and even in the face of extreme intolerance they are willing to not reciprocate the hate but shower love instead."
Singh promised that despite the increasing number of hate crimes against Sikh Americans, Sikh people would continue to wear their turbans and beards with pride and continue to be "easy to spot" as a "Sikh's strength lies in their identity".
The increase in the number of hate crimes has sparked as Islamophobia has been on the rise following the Paris attacks and the San Bernardino shooting. On the same day that Singh posted his thoughts on Facebook, the Obama administration ensured Sikhs in the US that they would do all they could to keep them safe from hate crime.
Addressing a gathering of Sikhs at the White House, Valerie Jarrett, a senior political advisor for President Obama, said: "You are part of such a vital member of our community and a big and vibrant part of what makes our country so great. So when your community comes under attack, we are all in danger."
Singh reminded people in his post on Facebook: "These seemingly progressive values of equality, freedom of religion, justice for all that you thought were American are actually something Sikhs have been living, and dying for centuries over. You might use images of the media to shape your world view through the bias lens, but we use spiritual power to shape our resolve."
On 9 December a man posted a video of a Sikh man sleeping next to him on a plane under the title: 'Would you feel safe?' The man's selfie video scans between the Sikh passenger and his own grinning face and is captioned: 'Flying with Bin Laden'. Thousands condemned the racist video, with some groups taking action to have it removed from YouTube.