The "We Are Sikhs" campaign has increased awareness for the religion's followers in the Fresno area, according to a new survey.
Written by The Business Journal Staff
In response to the ongoing “We are Sikhs” awareness effort, the National Sikh Campaign reported today an “increase of acceptance and understanding of Sikh Americans” in the Fresno area, according to a news release.
The National Sikh Campaign partnered with Hart Research to conduct surveys both prior to and following the advertising campaign, which appeared on Fox News and CNN. It featured Sikh Americans of various races discussing their traditions and values. The campaign also included grassroots organizing efforts in Fresno, where Sikh residents have been attacked and murdered in apparent hate crimes.
Sikhs — many of whom wear long beards, traditional clothing and turbans as part of their traditional dress — are often mistaken for Muslims. Late last year, a Fresno resident was sentenced to four years in prison for attacking Amrit Singh Bal in a hate crime, reportedly yelling “ISIS. Terrorist. Let’s get him,” during the assault, reported the Fresno Bee.
Before the “We are Sikhs” campaign began, 50 percent of Fresno-area residents said they knew nothing at all about Sikhism, according to Hart Research. After the campaign, that number slipped to 38 percent. For residents who actually saw the ads, that number fell further to 21 percent.
Additionally, there was a 12-point increase among Fresno residents who were more likely to associate Sikhs as “generally [having] American values.” On that question, there was a 25-point difference between those who had seen the ads and those who did not.
The survey also found people who had seen the ads associated Sikhs as “generally patriotic,” at a rate 22 percent higher than those who didn’t see the ads.
Respondents who saw the ads were also more likely to recognize bearded men with turbans as being Sikh at a rate of 57 percent, compared to 26 percent of people who did not see the ads.
“This research shows that Sikhs anywhere can successfully create an appreciation of our values of equality, tolerance and service,” said Gurwin Singh Ahuja, co-founder of the National Sikh Campaign, in statement. “…We have demonstrated that an inclusive position is the best and only way to educate our neighbors on the benefits of diversity and religious freedom.”
For more information, visit wearesikhs.org.