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Chicago, April 24, 2008
Rajinder Singh Mago

Advance screening of a cinema documentary “A DREAM IN DOUBT”, coming to PBS on Independent Lens an award winning series, in MAY 2008 took place at The Chicago Cultural Center (Claudia Cassidy Theatre) in Downtown Chicago, on April 19. The film was inspired by the post 9/11 backlash murder of a Sikh American Balbir Singh Sodhi, who wore a turban and beard, articles of his faith, and looked like the enemy to his murderer Frank Roque.

It was the first hate- based murder in the wake of September 11, 2001- One of thousands reported and unreported hate crimes in the years that followed.

The victim Balbir Singh Sodhi, a turbaned Sikh man in Mesa Arizona where his family had sought religious freedom and work, was searching for the American Dream. The Sodhi family is still determined to believe in that dream even as the nightmare continues for many religious and ethnic minorities in a climate of xenophobia and fear.

“A DREAM IN DOUBT” told from the perspective of the victim's brother Rana Sodhi, portrays one of America's first post 9/11 hate crime murders punctuated by a growing wave of violence in retaliation for the terror attacks. A DREAM IN DOUBT travels to Mesa, Arizona to reveal a story of national tragedy, murder, community and the American dream.

Following the screening, the film's director and a panel of guest speakers engaged the keen audience in a lively discussion about the unfortunate rise in hate crimes directed at innocent Sikhs, Muslims, Arabs and South Asians since 9/11, bigotry against immigrant populations and the wearing of the turban. The discussion ranged from a few misguided bad apples to systemic problems, education, diversity, and multicultural awareness.

Ninety percent of those who wear turbans and beards in America are Sikhs (an independent religion), who are originally from India and not the Middle East or Afghanistan.

The panel moderated by Ms. Inhe Choi of CAAAELII included Tami Yeager, Director/Producer of the film, Rajinder Singh Mago of Punjabi Cultural Society of Chicago (P.C.S.) , Pankaj Kapoor of United Taxidrivers Community Council, and Mr. Sayed Khozindar interim director of United Taxidrivers Community Council.

The film was co-produced by Preet Mohan Singh of SALDEF, Naomi Walker of ITVS organized the screening. The event was sponsored by The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, The Coalition of African, Arab, Asian, European and Latino Immigrants of Illinois (CAAAELII), The Taxi Workers Organizing Project, American Friends Service Committee, ITVS and WTTW Channel 11.



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