New Delhi: The Daily Show, an American late-night talk and news satire television programme with Trevor Noah, recently aired a segment called ‘Confused Islamophobes Target American Sikhs’, featuring a humorous interview with New York-based Indian-American designer and actor Waris Ahluwalia while raising a sensitive issue of the lack of awareness in the American population as to who Sikhs are and briefly educating the audience on Sikh history and values.
The show opens with a commentary by anchor Hasan Minhaj, saying: “Islamophobia, in case you have a no risk, it still is a big problem in America. What about those people who look Muslim but are Sikh American like Waris Ahluwalia. A turban, which as a Sikh he wears everywhere, but for some reason it makes people uncomfortable.”
Ahluwalia, who is familiar with this type of prejudice, told The Daily Show that he was kept from boarding a plane because he refused to take off his turban, a symbol of his faith.
He said it did not happen to him for the first time. “Almost every time I fly back to the U.S., I get a secondary screening. And it is not just a problem at an airport; it’s not just a problem for me on the streets.”
The show also features Donald Trump, a candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States, saying: “Islam hates us.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, (R-TX Presidential Candidate), however, noted: “We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighbourhoods before they become radicalised.”
“The segment emphasises how Sikhs have stood strong with American and Sikh egalitarian values by not turning racial discrimination away from themselves and deflecting it towards Muslims,” noted SikhNet in an article ‘The Daily Show Exposes Laudable Sikh Values’.
Daily Show correspondent asks a panel of Sikhs, “Why don’t you just go, ‘Hey! I’m not Muslim!?” To which Simran Jeet responded, “It’s just not an option for us to throw another community under the bus, even if it means things are harder for us, we believe it’s the right thing to do.” “We need to be better than that as Americans and that’s what our Sikh values teach as well,” added Narinder Singh.
Even as there are 2.5 lakh Sikhs in the U.S., the problem is Americans seem to have no idea about Sikhs. When Minhaj asked it to people, they pointed to pictures of binocular, a bird, and children playing hide-and-seek than a picture of a man wearing a turban as an example of a Sikh.
Instead, when people see a Sikh man wearing a turban, they assume he’s Muslim. And worse, because of Islamophobia, they often assume he’s a terrorist.
The show then went on to sensitising viewers about the origin of the Sikhism.
When Minhaj says, “I’m not a Muslim; look, I can hide it. If I were you, I would me under the bus so fast.” To which Ahluwalia retorted, “That’s not the way I was raised. That’s why I wear this turban as a reminder to myself to treat humanity with care and kindness. I’m not here to point fingers.”