New Jersey Governor Addresses Civil Rights in the Sikh Community

May 14, 2006

Source: The Panthic Weekly/Khalsa Press

On May 14, 2006 The Panthic Weekly/Khalsa Press reported, "New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine joined Assembly Speaker Joseph J. Roberts and Assemblyman Upendra J. Chivukula in calling for safeguards for the Sikh community’s civil rights during Vaisakhi celebrations on April 25, 2006. The event, organized by Assemblyman Chivukula, was held in the New Jersey Legislative Assembly Chambers. The Coalition’s Legal Director spoke on behalf of the Sikh community at the celebration... Assembly Speaker Roberts echoed Governor Corzine’s call for protecting the civil rights of the Sikh community. 'We need to recognize that people who look different need to be respected and we have to be ever vigilant to ensure that ignorance and lack of tolerance and lack of understanding and lack of a commitment to peaceful coexistence doesn’t get in our way to discharge all the blessings that we have as Americans and as New Jerseyans,' said Roberts.

Assemblyman Chivukula said that he was grateful for having initiated a dialogue between representatives of the Sikh community and Governor Corzine on the infringement of their religious rights and rising discrimination in the aftermath of 9/11. He said the General Assembly Chambers, where legislators seek to pass laws to protect the rights to liberty, justice and equality of all New Jerseyans was a fitting venue for such an initiative. Chivukula, a long standing advocate of minority and religious rights, co-sponsored an Anti-Racial Profiling Bill in 2003 that was passed into law in New Jersey. Chivukula noted that the word Sikh means Seeker of Truth and that the message of universal brotherhood and Ik Onkar (One God), important tenets of Sikhism, are as relevant today as when Guru Nanak Dev Ji founded the faith in the sixteenth century. He said the 20 million Sikhs worldwide make a significant political, economic and cultural contribution globally as well as to the State of New Jersey."