In an effort to educate people about Sikhism, documentary filmmaker Maneetpaul Singh took to the streets of New York. The film titled ‘They Called Me Osama’ is an expression of the racial abuse and discrimination faced by the Sikh community in the United States.
In the film, Singh asks pedestrians at Times Square if they know about Sikhs, and more often than not, he meets with blank responses. The film also has interviews of Sikhs recounting instances of racial abuse in America.
The community has lived in America for many years and faced several instances of racial discrimination. The spate of violence against Sikhs perhaps increased with the tidal wave of ‘Islamophobia’, since the World Trade Centre came down in 2001.
According to a document released by The Sikh Coalition in 2009, 41 percent of Sikhs surveyed in New York City had been called derogatory names, such as ‘Osama bin Laden’ or ‘terrorist’. The report also says that the New York Police Department disallows turbaned Sikhs from serving as police officers.
The film is Singh’s effort to educate people who have never heard of the religion.
It is to show people we are an independent religion, separate from Islam or Hinduism. However, at the same time, the goal is not to shift blame to Muslims or any other religious group. The film aims to showcase that it is simply not right to judge someone based on their appearance.Maneetpaul Singh to The Huffington Post