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Mon Nov 19, 2012, 11:40 AM

Sikh religion joining California universities' curriculum


Mistaken for Muslims and targeted after 9/11, members of the faith have sought to educate Americans about the religion. UC Santa Cruz is the latest to offer a course.

UC Santa Cruz instructor Nirvikar Singh, left, speaks to Hannah Elston, center, Kevin Deutsch, second from right, and Virginia Perez, right, during lunch at the Sikh Gurdwara in San Jose. (David Butow, For The Times / October 21, 2012)

By Lee Romney, Los Angeles Times
November 19, 2012, 4:41 a.m.

SANTA CRUZ The first slide professor Nirvikar Singh flashed on his PowerPoint showed the faces of six Sikh worshipers gunned down the previous month in Oak Creek, Wis., by a man with white supremacist ties.

As after other attacks since 9/11, the UC Santa Cruz professor explained to students in this fall introductory course, the Wisconsin shooting revealed an abiding ignorance over who Sikhs are and aren't.

"Despite being in this country for more than 100 years, I think Sikhs are not well understood," said Singh, a 58-year-old economist, dressed in jeans and a midnight blue turban.

Singh holds the university's nascent chair in Sikh and Punjabi studies the fourth of its kind in California and part of a broader movement to spread the word about the world's fifth-largest religion while promoting scholarship.

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