On Being Sikh in America: News Roundup

This week in the news: Park51 overcomes one more obstacle, a Canadian school’s religious accommodation stirs up controversy and more.

  • A NYC judge dismissed a lawsuit by an ex-NYC firefighter who sought to stop the construction of the Park51 Cultural Center (often incorrectly called the “Ground Zero Mosque”). Reported The New York Times: “In a decision issued on Friday, Justice Paul G. Feinman of State Supreme Court in Manhattan wrote that Mr. Brown was “an individual with a strong interest in preservation of the building” but added that Mr. Brown lacked any special legal standing on its fate…Mr. Gamal’s [Park51’s developer] lawyer, Adam Leitman Bailey, called the decision “a victory for America” and said: “Despite the tempest of religious hatred, the judge flexed our Constitution’s muscles enforcing the very bedrock of our democracy.””
  • The Associated Press ran a piece on discrimination against Sikhs post-9/11: “Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Sikhs have reported a rise in bias attacks, both verbal and physical, against them. The backlash that hit Muslims across the country has expanded to include them and their faith as well, with some assuming the sight of a long beard and turbaned head can only mean one thing…The Sikh Coalition said there have been at least 700 attacks or bias-related incidents against Sikhs since Sept. 11 in the U.S.”
In related news, Orange County Register columnist David Whiting wrote a moving column on “Wearing a Turban in the Face of Hate,” a look at Sikh family’s dedication to both preserving their traditions and educating others about Sikhism.
  • Controversy sparked in a Toronto school this week. The school, which has a large Muslim population, sought to accommodate students who needed to participate in Friday congregational prayer by allowing group prayer in the school cafeteria during class hours; previous, students would miss class time leaving school grounds to get back and forth from the local mosque. However, there’s real question as to whether this accommodation, however well-intentioned, violates Canadian law. The Canadian Jewish News, AFP, and The Globe and Mail all cover the story.
  •  A new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine finds that talking about hospital patients’ religious needs results in greater overall satisfaction. Senior study author Farr Curlin of the University of Chicago found that: “41 percent of patients wanted to discuss religious or spiritual concerns with someone while in the hospital, and 32 percent of all patients said some discussion did occur. Among those who had taken part in discussions, 61 percent spoke with a chaplain, 12 percent with a member of their own religious community, 8 percent with a physician, and 12 percent with someone else.” However, “Half of the patients who wanted a discussion did not have one (20 percent of patients overall) and one in four who did not want a conversation about spiritual issues had one anyway.” Newswise has more information.
More stories are available, as always, in the News section of our site. Enjoy the weekend!