New Sikh Awareness Campaign Targets Stereotypes

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Members of the Sikh religion want to remind people that they are everyday Americans -- and they are spending money on a new campaign to do so. TV ads slated to air on CNN and Fox News send the message that "Sikh values are American values," and that Sikhs are doctors, PTA moms and patriots.

The campaign is by the nonprofit National Sikh Campaign organization, which wants to correct what it describes as a "collective misunderstanding of what the turban means in the Sikh faith," according to a press release. The turban is "a symbol of our community's commitment to equality and serving others," said Rajwant Singh, co-founder and senior advisor of the National Sikh Campaign.

The group cited acts of discrimination, intimidation, harassment and hate crimes that the community has faced since the terrorists of Sept. 11. In an article about the campaign, the Associated Press reported that more than 300 hate crimes have been reported by Sikhs in the U.S. since Sept. 11.

But the ads mostly take a lighter tone. In one spot, a woman says "we like 'Game of Thrones,'" followed by a man who professes his love for "Star Wars."

One video includes more serious dialogue with a man stating that two-thirds of "Sikh kids are bullied in school."

"Sikh values are American values, and Sikh Americans have been making positive and significant contributions to American life for more than a century," Gurwin Singh Ahuja, co-founder and executive director of the National Sikh Campaign, said in the statement. "We run local businesses, sing our national anthem with pride, serve on local Parent Teacher Associations and lead Boy Scout Troops."

The agency on the campaign is AKPD Messaging & Media. The shop has worked for progressive causes and Democrats, including Barack Obama, according to its web site. California-based Yellow Line Digital also worked on the campaign.

TV ads will run on programs including CNN's "New Day" and "The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer," as well as Fox News' "Special Report With Bret Baier." Digital and PR are also planned.

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