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Palatine, IL, Dec 25, 2012
R.S. Mago

“It’s a season of joy and time for families gatherings and not separations, its’ a time for charity and giving and not taking innocent lives, it’s a time for celebration and planning parties and not arranging funerals,” said Rajinder Singh Mago the event coordinator at Sikh Religious Society.

Sikh Religious Society (SRS) of Palatine Illinois hosted the commemoration of Illinois House Resolution 1193, Illinois House Resolution 1193 (HR 1193) formally adopted on Nov. 27, 2012, and also facilitated a press conference between the sponsors of the resolution, media and community leaders. The event took place on December 16, 2012 at the Palatine Illinois Gurdwara Sahib. More than 500 attended, which included several interfaith and civil rights organizations leaders.
A moment of silence to honor the victims of one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history, the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut was hosted by the SRS president Mrs. Sukhdev Kaur Ghuman, who described the incident as horrific and unimaginable. "How could someone kill those innocent defenseless little children?" she lamented.

Sikh supplication “Ardaas” was carried out by the Gurdwara Head Granthi Bhai Gurjant Singh to pray for the departed souls of the elementary school and their families.

Amrith Kaur Aakre, Assistant State’s Attorney Cook County compeered the proceedings of the HR-1193 commemoration a two part program, a speaking portion addressing the Gurdwara congregation, followed by a press conference with media and question and answer session with community members also moderated by Amrith Kaur Aakre.
During the press conference and community Q&A portion of the program, gun and ammunition control, introduction of some restrictions to the constitutional right to bear arms, and to expand mental health services to treat people capable of such violence was discussed.

Those who addressed the congregation included Ahmed Rehab Executive Director of CAIR-Chicago, Ami Gandhi, executive director of the South Asian American Policy & Research Institute (SAAPRI), Greg Bales from Sen. Durbin’s office, Chicago City Councilman Ameya Pawar, Illinois State Senator Matt Murphy, Illinois House Representative Michelle Mussman a co-sponsor of HR 1193, Illinois House Representative Daniel Biss, a chief co-sponsor of HR 1193.
Alderman Pawar introduced a similar anti-hate resolution in Chicago City Council this past September, which was approved unanimously and the city council opened with a Sikh invocation first time in its history.

The event at the Gurdwara was organized by Rajinder Singh Mago, of the Sikh Religious Society (SRS), Ami Gandhi, executive director of the South Asian American Policy & Research Institute (SAAPRI) and Amrith Kaur Aakre.
SAAPRI took the lead on developing the resolution with input from the community.
Ami Gandhi, executive director of the institute, said there were inspiring examples of solidarity among the diverse group that came together to develop the measure.

"We ask that these anti-hate resolutions at the state and city level be just the first step to prevent future hate crimes and increase education about diverse religions and cultures," Gandhi said.

State Rep. Daniel Biss of Skokie, chief sponsor of the resolution, said the resolution came on the heels of the Wisconsin shooting as well as incidents targeting mosques in Morton Grove and Lombard.

"It's an opportunity to bring the conversation back out into the public and make sure that it doesn't get hidden away," said State Rep. Michelle Mussman of Schaumburg. "We can't pretend this does not happen here. That's the bigger strength of this resolution."

Daniel Biss, who is Jewish, said there was a time when anti-Semitism was an accepted piece of the public dialogue — until a broad coalition came together to declare it unacceptable.

"We have to make that universal and loud condemnation what is to be expected when any kind of divisive, intolerant or hateful speech is directed to any community," Biss said.

HR-1193 is an anti-hate-crime resolution which encourages religious tolerance and promotes education about diverse cultures and religions to end violence. It also denounces hate attacks on Sikh Americans, Muslim Americans, and other South-Asian minorities. Attacks on these communities included the shootings at a Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek Wisconsin on Aug. 5, 2012, and a number of hate crimes against Muslims mosques in Morton Grove and Lombard, and other minorities. The resolution also denounces hateful political rhetoric, and encourages civic participation by members of minority groups.

 The event ended with a langar, a community kitchen vegetarian meal at the Gurdwara.