India Americans decry apparent image of a Sikh in a US News terrorism story

The group had recently launched an electronic guidebook to educate journalists who report on Sikhism.

NEW YORK (TIP): The US News has removed an apparent image of a Sikh running with a rifle in a story on how terrorism is taught in classrooms around the world, after a Sikh civil rights group demanded its removal and sought an apology.

The story, posted on January 23, explores “how 9/11 turned terrorism into a hot topic” and “what students learn about it in academia” in the post-9/11 world.

The apparent photo of a Sikh was the featured post image—meaning it was the photo visible when the article is shared on twitter and Facebook by readers.

The image drew condemnation from the Sikh Coalition, a New York-based organization.

“Using the apparent image of a Sikh in this @USNews story examining post 9/11 terrorism is reckless and we will be seeking a correction and apology immediately,” the group tweeted on Friday night.

The photo was also denounced by Nathan C. Walker, executive director of 1791 Delegates, a group of constitutional and human rights experts that provides advice on issues related to religion and public life.

“Dangerous journalism, contributing to religious illiteracy, fueling stereotypes, and contributing to discrimination and violence against Sikhs,” Walker tweeted, adding that he has already written to the editors of US News and the author of the piece, Sintia Radu, “requesting that this inaccurate and consequential image be removed.”

By Sunday morning, the image was gone. In was replaced by a 9/11 image of plumes of smoke billowing from the twin towers.

Misconceptions about Sikhs and Sikhism are widely prevalent in the US media and the society in general. After 9/11, there has been a series of attacks against Sikhs.

In fact, the Sikh Coalition, in collaboration with Religious News Foundation, on January 16, posted the first-ever electronic guidebook for journalists who report on Sikhism to avoid the kind of mistake the US News made.

The hard copy of the comprehensive guidebook for journalists looking to report on Sikhism was released in September last year at the Religion News Association’s annual conference in Nashville, Tennessee. The electronic version of the same has been delivered to over 3,500 reporters, producers, and editors at over 500 U.S. news outlets.

“This is a wonderful guide and resource for reporters covering Sikh issues,” said Orange County Register Religion Reporter, Deepa Bharath in a statement. “This guide provides depth and nuance and will be a go-to resource for me and my colleagues.”

The comprehensive guide aims to raise awareness among media professionals on Sikhism. It covers almost all aspects of Sikhism from its history to beliefs, worships and important Sikh calendar dates.

The illustrated guide has also a section to clear the common doubts about the Sikh faith.

“We all know that the media has to do a better job of covering Sikhism and the Sikh community,” said Sikh Coalition Senior Religion Fellow and primary author, Simran Jeet Singh.

“We hope that this will help them do so, both by improving the accuracy of coverage and by equipping reporters with a resource that helps them write more about Sikh issues,” he added.

The Sikh Coalition worked for nearly two years to complete the book before the Religion News Foundation took the product to print.

“Partnering with the Sikh Coalition to provide this expert reporter guide has been outstanding,” said Thomas Gallagher, CEO, Religion News Foundation. “The Sikh Coalition’s expertise and professionalism from start to finish ensure this product will be a valuable resource for reporting in America in the years to come.”

(Source: Sikh Coalition)



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