Suhag Shukla, Sapreet Kaur among 2017 ‘Faith Leaders to Watch’

 

Suhag Shukla, Executive Director, Legal Counsel, and co-founder of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), has been named one of twelve “faith leaders to watch in 2017” by the Center for American Progress, the Center for American Progress announced Jan. 18. Sapreet Kaur, the Sikh Coalition’s executive director in 2009, was the other South Asian featured on the list.

Amid many changes happening throughout the country, the center noted that “faith leaders can fill the critical dual roles of holding political leaders accountable to communities and witnessing the shared vision of a more just nation and world.”

It added, “Both individually and collectively, people of faith, their voices, and their actions will be integral to fighting back against injustice and ensuring that all people are treated with dignity and equity.” Shukla is the co-founder of HAF and currently serves as its executive director and legal counsel.

“I’m humbled to be included alongside other prominent American faith leaders,” the Indian American activist said in a statement. “However, doing this work and being honored in this way is only possible because of the dedication and hard work of the entire team behind HAF, as well as that of our supporters.”

The foundation is an advocacy organization for the Hindu American community. It educates the public about Hinduism, speaks out about issues affecting Hindus worldwide and works with intrafaith and interfaith organizations to advance its mission of religious liberty.

Shukla embodies true religious liberty, ensuring that plurality and the rights of religious minorities are at the heart of religious freedom advocacy, the report said.

Since starting as the Sikh Coalition’s executive director in 2009, Sapreet Kaur has transformed the organization into a large and visible civil rights organization that provides legal defense and advocates on issues of hate crimes, racial and religious profiling, safe schools, employment discrimination, and religious liberty. Shedding a light on the lesser-recognized faith, in 2013, Kaur was the first Sikh to speak at a Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service. In 2016, Kaur and her team launched the groundbreaking  Sikh Project, a collection of photographs of diverse Sikh Americans that complicates the narrative and sparks conversation about what it means to be American.

In all of her work, Kaur prioritizes building bridges within the interfaith community, ensuring that the Sikh Coalition’s advocacy work supports not only Sikh civil rights but also the rights of all people. Going forward, Kaur is committed to pushing back on attacks on religious minorities and lesser-known communities and taking a stand against fear mongering and discrimination.

Shedding a light on the lesser-recognized faith, in 2013, Kaur was the first Sikh to speak at a presidential inaugural prayer service, the center news release noted. Last year, Kaur and her team launched the Sikh Project, a collection of photographs of diverse Sikh Americans that complicates the narrative and sparks conversation about what it means to be American.

The gauntlet of leaders to watch represent the best of faith traditions: optimism that the future can and will be more just and strength and perseverance to fight to make it so, the center stressed. Their leadership is desperately needed, and CAP’s Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative looks forward to the inspiration their work will provide in the coming year, it added.

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