DOVER, Delaware — The Delaware State Assembly has passed a resolution to proclaim April as 'Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month', amidst increasing hate crime incidents against Indian Americans, and particularly Sikhs, in the U.S.
A resolution in this regard was passed unanimously by both the state Senate and the state House of Representatives.
The move was welcomed by Governor John Carney, who, in a meeting with members of the Indian American community, assured all kinds of help to the community, which he said of late has been experiencing a spate of hate crimes.
"We have fear mongering going on at the national level, and stereotyping...and all of that. It is an embarrassment to America as a country," Carney told a delegation of Indian Americans led by local businessman and community leader Charanjeet Singh Minhas.
Such kinds of attack or vandalism is "completely unacceptable," the Delaware governor said.
Introduced in the state Senate by Senator Brown Townsend, the resolution said Delaware stands with the Sikh community in denouncing hate crimes directed towards any individual on account of their religious beliefs.
"Since September 11, 2001, the Sikhs are often mistaken for Taliban or followers of Al Qaida, owing to the commonality of their beards and turbans, and subjected to a disproportionately high rate of hate crimes, and Sikh boys suffer bullying at least twice the national bullying rate for other boys," it said.
In the House, the resolution was moved by Assemblyman Paul Baumbach. It noted that the Sikh-American community continues to peacefully overcome attacks on its identity and practices, whether in the form of school harassment, employment discrimination, or fatal shootings, including the murders of six Sikhs during the Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Sikh Gurdwara shooting on Aug. 5, 2012, and the shooting of a Sikh man that occurred in Kent, Washington, on March 3, 2017.
In addition, over 30 other hate crimes have occurred nationwide since the Sept. 11, 2001 World Trade Center attack in New York.
"The faithful service of the Sikh-American community to Delaware and the United States merits appreciation as an integral thread in the fabric of American plurality," the resolution said as it proclaimed April, 2017 'Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month'."
Simultaneously, Matt Meyer chief executive New Castle County also issued the proclamation.
"We are here to help you and ensure that you are safe," Gov. Carney said.
Minhas said Delaware, which has a small Sikh community as compared to other states like California, New York and New Jersey, has taken a lead in showing its solidarity with the people of this ethnic religious minority.
"It's a landmark day for the Indian Americans and the Sikh community especially here in Delaware. It is also all over in the U.S., considering the kind of environment that is there in the country today. With so much of hatred that is prevailing in the nation, what the Delaware Assembly has done is very significant," said Minhas, who runs a software company in the state.