Sikhs Appear on ‘The Daily Show’ to Combat Islamophobia


The Daily Show takes it to the streets to educate people about Sikhs.

The Daily Show is an American late-night talk and news satire TV program. It is aired on Comedy Central each Monday through Thursday. Hasan Minhaj is an American actor, comedian, and a senior correspondent on The Daily Show. As part of his show, he did a street interview to find out if the Americans know about the Sikh religion. He showed a few Americans he randomly met on the street, the picture of a Sikh, a bird, a binocular, and children playing hide and seek, and asked them to point out the Sikh. Most of them failed to identify the Sikh.

Sikhs Appear on ‘The Daily Show’ to Combat Islamophobia[/tweetthis]

The same has been the case in a survey commissioned by the National Sikh Campaign (NSC), in 2014.

The problem with this scenario is that most of the Americans who have no idea who the Sikhs are, assume that they are Muslims. In their ignorance, they treat a Sikh person the same way they treat a Muslim person, with extreme prejudice and hatred. Of course, not all Americans are Islamophobes. The above statement only refers to those Americans with anti-Muslim sentiments.

Sikhism was introduced into the United States during the 19th century. The religion has been part of America's religious landscape for well over a 100 years. Sikhs have been serving in the United States Military since the early 20th century. Sikhs have made their presence known in some of the prominent Hollywood movies, like The Darjeeling Limited, Bend It like Beckham, and so on. As of now, there are well over 250,000 Sikhs living in America. So, the ignorance of Americans regarding the Sikh religion is quite a surprise. On the show, Hasan Minhaj expressed his surprise as well, in a funny way of course.

The unpopularity of Sikhs, however, never spared them from discrimination. Even before September 11, before the American people's attitude drastically changed towards the Muslims, Sikhs have been subject to discrimination. Their skin color and their turban have always made them easy prey for prejudice.

According to actor and designer Waris Ahluwalia, he was once stopped from boarding a plane because he refused to take his turban off. He told Minhaj that he always faces issues at the U.S. airports because of his turban. He is often subjected to a second screening in most of the U.S. airports. According to Ahluwalia, it is not possible for the Sikh men for an image makeover as well. The turban is part of their religion, part of their faith. It represents what they are, their belief, and what they hold dear and true. Those values are Sikh. Those values are American.

“I wear this turban as a reminder to treat humanity with care and kindness.” -Waris Ahluwalia

The Sikhs who participated in the show told Minhaj that despite them being called ISIS, terrorists, and so on, they are not willing to say that they are not Muslims, and thus throw another community under the bus. It is not who they are, it is not what their Sikh values have taught them. They stand in solidarity with their Muslim brethren.


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