Democratic Convention Taking Cue From Republicans

Indian-born Sikh Republican activist Harmeet Dhillon delivers the invocation in Punjabi and English at the start of the second session at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar











The Democrats are following upon the Republican Convention of 2016, by featuring a member of the Sikh faith to deliver the opening prayer at their convention.

On Sunday, August 16, Sikh and interfaith community leader Pardeep Kaleka of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, will open an interfaith service to kick off the 2020 Democratic National Convention, The Sikh Coalition said in a press release.

In 2016, Harmeet Dhillon, a California attorney, delivered an opening prayer on the second day of the Repulican National Convention. Dhillon is one of California’s two elected members of the Republican National Committee. She is part of President Trump’s reelection team as co-chair of “Women for Trump.”

Kaleka’s father, Satwant Singh Kaleka, founder of the Oak Creek, Wisconsin gurdwara, was among the six people killed by white supremacist Wade Michael Page, when he opened fire indiscriminately Aug. 5, 2012. (A seventh victim, Baba Punjab Singh, who was critically injured in the assault, passed away from his injuries last year.)

The service by Kaleka will take place Sunday, August 16 from 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM EDT, one day before the convention formally begins and will be streamed live on the convention’s YouTube page at

“It is an honor to join other faith leaders in this important gesture of unity,” Kaleka is quoted saying in press release. “The Sikh community in the United States has long been strengthened by compassionate engagement with those of other faiths. We must bring that compassion, along with our values of justice, equality, and love, to the voting booth this November; every Sikh should check their voter registration now to ensure that they are able to participate in our democracy this fall.”

His speech will focus on the value of interfaith collaboration and on “continued shared struggles of minority groups against hateful and violent ideologies”  including the tragedy that struck the Sikh community in 2012 in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.

Kaleka is the executive director of Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, and is the founder of Serve2Unite. He is the author of “The Gifts of Our Wounds.”

A former police officer and educator, and a clinician specializing treating trauma survivors and perpetrators of assault, abuse, and acts of violence, the press release said.




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