Obama vows to stand up for South Asians’ civil rights

Washington, May 1 (IANS) Noting that South Asian Americans, particularly those who are Muslim, Hindu, or Sikh, have too often faced “senseless violence and suspicion”, President Barack Obama has vowed to keep up the fight against discrimination.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders “have made our country bigger and brighter again and again, from Native Hawaiians to the generations of striving immigrants who shaped our history,” he said, in a Presidential Proclamation declaring May as the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.

“Their story is the American story,” he said, but noted, “for many in the AAPI community, that story is one also marked by lasting inequality and bitter wrongs.”

“Immigrants seeking a better life were often excluded, subject to quotas, or denied citizenship because of their race,” Obama noted.

“And in the last decade, South Asian Americans — particularly those who are Muslim, Hindu, or Sikh — have too often faced senseless violence and suspicion due only to the colour of their skin or the tenets of their faith,” he said.

Obama noted: “Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have prevailed over adversity and risen to the top of their fields — from medicine to business to the bench.

“But even now, too many hardworking AAPI families face disparities in health care, education, and employment that keep them from getting ahead,” he said reaffirming his administration’s commitment “to addressing those disparities”.

“We are standing up for civil rights, economic opportunity, and better outcomes in health and education,” he said.

“We are fighting for commonsense immigration reform so America can continue to be a magnet for the best and brightest from all around the world, including Asia and the Pacific,” said Obama but acknowledged “meeting those challenges will not be easy”.

“But the history of the AAPI community shows us how with hope and resolve, we can overcome the problems we face,” he said.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])

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