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Simran Jeet Singh
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Simran Jeet Singh is the Senior Religion Fellow for the Sikh Coalition and a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Religion at Columbia University.

Simran contributes on a wide range of issues relating to religion and culture. He contributes regularly to a number of media outlets, such as The New York Times,, The Washington Post, and Newsweek’s The Daily Beast. He has also appeared on various television and radio programs, including BBC, NPR, CBS, and PBS, and in 2014 Simran delivered a keynote address at The White House.

His expertise ranges from the formations of religious communities in early modern South Asia to xenophobia and hate violence in modern America. His dissertation research focuses specifically on the founder of the Sikh tradition – Guru Nanak– and the earliest available manuscript accounts of his life. He has served as a Teaching Assistant for courses on Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism at Columbia University, and in 2013 Simran received the prestigious Columbia University Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching.

Simran earned graduate degrees from Harvard University (2008) and Columbia University (2009), and has his undergraduate degree from Trinity University (2006). He currently serves as a Truman National Security Fellow and the Scott and Rachel F. McDermott Fellow for the American Institute of Indian Studies. Simran lives with his wife Gunisha Kaur in Manhattan, New York, where he enjoys reading, running marathons, and spending time with family and friends.

Entries by Simran Jeet Singh

The Future of the Sikh Tradition

(23) Comments | Posted February 6, 2015 | 10:54 PM

The Sikh tradition has long been at the forefront of social innovation. The founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak (d. 1469 CE), developed creative solutions to address social and political challenges. He brought forward a fresh worldview that envisioned humanity as a collective family tied together by a single Divine Force,...

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Guru Nanak at the White House

(0) Comments | Posted November 13, 2014 | 6:37 PM

The following is the address I gave at The White House celebrating Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.

Vahiguru Ji Ka Khalsa! Vahiguru Ji Ki Fateh!

Thank you to President Obama and his staff for bringing us together to honor the life and legacy of Guru...

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Reflecting On The Life Of Guru Nanak While Running The NYC Marathon

(5) Comments | Posted November 6, 2014 | 11:10 AM

Today, Sikhs around the world are celebrating the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak (1469-1539), the founder of the Sikh religion. Guru Nanak was born in the region of Punjab, which currently falls within the political boundaries of Pakistan and northwest India. He observed the deep social inequalities and spiritual dissatisfaction...

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Another Apparent Sikh Hate Crime in NYC

(0) Comments | Posted August 5, 2014 | 11:06 AM

Two years ago, the nation came together when a white supremacist entered a gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin and opened fire on the congregation. It was the most lethal attack on an American house of worship since the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

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Contextualizing Anti-Semitism in Modern America

(3) Comments | Posted April 15, 2014 | 6:19 PM

Earlier this year, I received a special invitation to visit the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum with a group of distinguished young scholars. I was thrilled by the prospect of receiving a guided tour from Dr. Victoria Barnett, director of the Museum's Programs on Ethics, Religion, and the Holocaust, and I...

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Impunity & Immunity in India: Diplomats, Public Perceptions, and Human Rights Violations

(0) Comments | Posted December 20, 2013 | 12:06 PM

Last week, the United States arrested an Indian diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, for committing fraud in a visa application for her nanny. The application submitted by Khobragade claimed that the housekeeper would be paid the minimum wage of $9.75, yet sources revealed that she was actually being paid about $3.31 per...

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Hate Hits Home: When My Friend Became A Target

(153) Comments | Posted September 22, 2013 | 5:22 PM

Last night, I received the kind of phone call that everyone dreads: a close friend was hurt, and on his way to the hospital. But the news got worse, as I learned that my friend, Dr. Prabhjot Singh, a young Sikh American professor at Columbia University, had been...

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Sikhs Host 'Turban Day' in New York City

(2) Comments | Posted September 10, 2013 | 11:53 AM

Although it is counted as the world's fifth largest religion, relatively few Americans know about the Sikh tradition. This lack of awareness has had severely negative consequences, especially when Americans mistakenly equate a turban with terrorism. The first casualty of a hate crime after 9/11 was a turbaned...

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Am I Trayvon? Zimmerman? Both?

(8) Comments | Posted July 17, 2013 | 1:20 PM

As I strolled outside my Manhattan apartment this morning, reflecting on the Trayvon Martin decision, I had one of those moments that would shatter any possible artifice of living in a post-racial society.

I heard a woman cry in pain and turned around to see her lying...

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Remembering the Massacre of Sikhs in June of 1984

(20) Comments | Posted June 3, 2013 | 2:41 PM

During the first week of June, Sikhs around the world commemorate a recent historical event: Operation Bluestar of 1984, a government-sanctioned military operation that resulted in countless casualties and the destruction of one of the most historically significant gurduaras, the Darbar Sahib of Amritsar (i.e., The Golden Temple).


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Protesting Interfaith? The Importance of Advancing Our Dialogues

(23) Comments | Posted April 25, 2013 | 1:22 PM

I had never before seen anyone protest an interfaith gathering. But yesterday as we walked out of our hotel in Kiev, Ukraine, a small group of protestors stepped forward to verbally and physically harass our group consisting of religious leaders and foreign dignitaries. The protestors belonged to the Ukranian Orthodox...

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Sikhs Team Up to Run for a Cause

(3) Comments | Posted April 9, 2013 | 12:32 PM

After raising more than $7,000 for charity, a new Sikh running team -- The Surat Fauj Running Club -- participated in its first two events this past weekend. On Saturday members of the California team showed their commitment to defending human rights in Punjab, India by joining the "Appear for...

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Hate, Congress and the FBI: Rethinking How We Track Hate Crimes in America

(7) Comments | Posted March 8, 2013 | 11:17 AM

Two weeks ago, Florida resident and Sikh American Kanwaljit Singh was driving with his 13-year old son when someone pulled up next to him in a pickup truck and opened fire. Two of the bullets struck Singh in the thigh and torso, and after about a week in the Intensive...

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Touching Turbans and Airport Security

(228) Comments | Posted February 18, 2013 | 4:32 PM

This story has been updated. Scroll down to see the latest update.

This afternoon, I was forced to let someone else touch my turban. It's one of the most humiliating moments of my life.

I attended a conference at Stanford University this weekend and was traveling back to...

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Repealing the Ban Against Sikhs in the Military

(20) Comments | Posted January 22, 2013 | 8:06 AM

A few weeks ago, the British Army and the Scots Guard broke centuries of tradition by allowing a Sikh soldier, Jatinderpal Singh Bhullar, to wear his turban rather than the traditional bearskin cap while guarding Buckingham Palace in London, England. Meanwhile, U.S. policies still bar turbaned Sikhs from serving in...

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A Believer's Response To The Connecticut Shooting: We All Suffer Together

(14) Comments | Posted December 14, 2012 | 4:29 PM

The mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut raises serious questions about the health of our society and collective humanity. People around the globe today wonder how anyone could possibly justify killing innocent school children and school employees.

More than any of the other mass shootings our...

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Mayor Tonya Hoeffel's Act Of Intolerance Towards The Sikh Community

(25) Comments | Posted September 10, 2012 | 4:24 PM

Less than one month after of the massacre of Sikhs in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Mayor Tonya Hoeffel of Garrett, Indiana has further offended the Sikh community. Mayor Hoeffel walked into a local convenience store, observed pamphlets about the Sikh religion on the store counter, and picked them up before throwing...

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Dalbir Singh Murdered: Another Sikh Killed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

(243) Comments | Posted August 17, 2012 | 3:16 AM

Another Sikh has been murdered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Fifty-six-year-old Dalbir Singh regularly attended the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, the same gurdwara where white supremacist Wade Michael Page opened fire and killed six members of the congregation.

According to a press release issued by the...

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Underneath The Turban: Why Sikhs Do Not Hide

(264) Comments | Posted August 13, 2012 | 9:00 AM

Why do we wear turbans?"

Nearly every Sikh American who grows up in the U.S. asks their families this question and as two Sikh Americans who maintain our faith, we were no different when we were little. This week, as Americans join in vigils for the six murdered Sikhs...

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A Muslim and a Sikh Talk about Sikhism in the Aftermath of the Wisconsin Tragedy

(6) Comments | Posted August 7, 2012 | 1:23 PM

In the aftermath of the tragic shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, Omid Safi, Professor of Religious Studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and one of America's Muslim public intellectuals interviewed Simran Jeet Singh, a doctoral candiate in the Department of Religion at Columbia University whose...

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