FRESNO SIKHS LAUNCH ‘WE ARE SIKHS’ CAMPAIGN
Elected officials, community leaders and local Sikhs announced advertising and grassroots effort at Fresno City Hall
FRESNO, CA June 22 ( Raj Gogna)-The Fresno Chapter of the National Sikh Campaign (NSC), along with local community leaders held a press conference to announce We Are Sikhs Fresno, an initiative to improve awareness of the Sikh religion and Sikh Americans in the Fresno community. We Are Sikhs Fresno will feature local, multi-platform advertising, community events and outreach to the local community.
The two television advertisements, ‘Neighbors’ and ‘Proud’ began running in the Fresno media market on June 9. ‘Neighbors’ explains the values of Sikhism and how they are similar to American values. Further, it highlights the important role Sikhs play in the community as doctors, PTA moms and patriots. ‘Proud’ further highlights how Sikh values – such as tolerance, religious freedom and gender equality – go hand in hand with American values. These ads have also been running on CNN and FOX cable networks nationwide.
The event at Fresno City Hall was attended by Members of the Sikh community, Chairman of Fresno County Board of Supervisors Brian Pacheco and Supervisor Buddy Mendes, Fresno Mayor Lee Brand, Fresno City Council President Clint Olivier, Fresno City Councilmembers Oliver Baines and Esmerelda Soria, Selma City Councilmembers Scott Robertson and Jim Avalos, Clovis City Councilmember Vongsavanh Mouanoutoua, among other distinguished members of the community including the Fresno business community, agricultural leaders and members of the interfaith community.
During the event, Amritpal Singh, a representative of We Are Sikhs Fresno, said, “Sikh Americans have been a part of the fabric of the community of Fresno and every corner of the nation for over 115 years. We know that the United States is the greatest country on the earth and we are proud to call ourselves Americans.”
“I’m honored and proud to stand next to the Sikh community,” added Fresno Mayor Lee Brand. “If you look in our community… you look at doctors, lawyers, successful businesspeople, farmers, every aspect of life, particularly in small business. The Sikh people are family orientated, have family values that stress that the maximum achievement and embody the American Dream.”
Although Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world, more than half of Americans know absolutely nothing about the Sikh community. In Fresno, despite a vibrant Sikh community, Sikhs have faced a number of hate crimes in recent years, including: a Sikh being intentionally hit by a car in December 2015 and the murder of a Sikh store clerk in January 2016. Further, 54 percent of Sikh youths in Fresno and nearly 70 percent of turbaned Sikh youths in Fresno have experienced bullying and harassment.
“I am very thankful to everyone who came out today to express support for the launch of the We Are Sikhs Campaign in Fresno.” said Bill Nijjer Singh with the We Are Sikh Campaign. “Beginning June 9 we will start our television advertising and in the next few weeks, you will be seeing us in the community, helping educate our neighbors on the values of Sikhism. We are looking forward to partnering with local groups and community leaders to further inform the community about Sikhism.”
“We are very proud to launch We Are Sikhs Fresno. It is a culmination of a long and a collective effort of the Sikh community nationwide to inform about who we are and why we are proud to wear the turban, a symbol of our community’s commitment to equality and serving others,” said Dr. Rajwant Singh, co-founder and senior advisor of the National Sikh Campaign. Fresno, Selma and Visalia Sikh communities have joined this unprecedented national initiative to create better understanding of our community’s presence. We are thankful to all the Gurdwaras and Sikh media groups who have supported this massive task.”
For this PR work for Sikhs, NSC had engaged AKPD, President Obama’s media team and Hart Research Associates, which does strategy work for the World Bank, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Harvard University. In addition, it has hired FP1 Strategies, a conservative and Republican leaning marketing team which has done strategy work for President Bush’s 2000 and 2004 campaign and it has done marketing for Facebook and Ford Motor Company. President Bill Clinton’s speech writer planned and edited the content of the website WeareSikhs.org. NSC held fundraising events in 14 cities to garner support from the community and the total cost of this campaign is expected to be $1.3 Million.
The Sikh community has been the target of discrimination, intimidation, harassment and hate crimes since the 9/11 Attacks largely because of a collective misunderstanding of what the turban means in the Sikh faith. Sikhs wear the turban to show their willingness to serve others in the community and their commitment to equality for all people. 99% of individuals wearing turbans in the U.S. are of the Sikh faith.