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Sikhs Working With Syrian Refugees Say They Keep Being Mistaken For ISIS Members

"You should think twice before judging a book by its cover."

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Langar Aid, a branch of UK-based Sikh nonprofit organisation Khalsa Aid, has been travelling to war-torn regions like Syria and Iraq, and providing aid and relief to civilians and refugees alike.

khalsaaid.org

According to Khalsa Aid, they have previously dispatched relief teams to European Union borders across Serbia, Croatia, and Greece to support local governments and national charities by providing any and all aid they can.

Langar Aid provides clean drinking water, hot meals, warm clothing, blankets, socks, rainwear, toys for children, and traditional Punjabi sweets.

"As founder and CEO of Khalsa Aid and someone who has visited refugee camps in the Middle East, I implore every single person to help these vulnerable people and families," Ravi Singh told BuzzFeed News. "We should refrain from making ill-informed judgments of these refugees, but rather support them with compassion, understanding, and hope."

Singh said that because of his appearance he's been mistaken for an ISIS member while working parts of the Middle East.

Khalsa Aid

"In parts of the Middle East I have been mistaken for ISIS given my external appearance as a practising Sikh," Singh said. "People soon realise we are there to help and that you should think twice before judging a book by its cover."

He said it's their duty as Sikhs to support those in need. Sikhs believe in the idea of "Sewa" or selfless giving.

Khalsa Aid

"We are taught to recognise the whole human race as one. I am privileged to be in a position to support refugees across Europe," Indy Hothi, a Khalsa Aid trustee said. "I always remind myself that I could easily be in a similar situation myself if I was born in a different part of the world."

In countries like Iraq and Syria, the NGO has established an industrial-scale bakery which produces over one million loaves of bread a month and supports 16,000 refugees.

Khalsa Aid

They did so by working with local law enforcement and the Swedish Doctors Association.

"Refugees were so happy to see the support we provided, especially during Eid, a significant date for a number of refugees that couldn't fully celebrate due to being torn away from their homes," said Kanwar Singh, of Khalsa Aid.

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