United States President George W Bush on Tuesday sent greetings to Sikhs across America and worldwide on the 538th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism.
In his message, Bush said, "Our nation benefits from a strong tradition of faith, and religious diversity is an important part of this heritage. The teachings of Guru Nanak provide strength and support to thousands of Sikhs in America and millions more around the world."
"Their belief in a loving God reminds us of the gift of religious freedom in our country and helps make the world a more hopeful place," Bush said.
He said he appreciated the Sikh community for their strong devotion to faith and family and added, "By sharing Guru Nanak's messages of truth, contentment, compassion, humility and love, you are helping change lives, one heart and one soul at a time."
Dr Rajwant Singh, chairman and founder of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, which received the message from the president, thanked him for his greetings and said, "This definitely recognises the Sikh presence in the United States and it further strengthens the roots of our future generations."
"This helps to solidify our belief that America welcomes all religions and diversity is its strength," he said. "President Bush and his administration have been extremely prompt in responding to the needs of the Sikhs. We always remember his leadership immediately after 9/11 and his words of assurance to the Sikh community as it faced some very tough times during the aftermath of that terrible tragedy," Singh also told rediff.com.
Following the attacks on some Sikhs in the days following 9/11 when they were mistaken by bigots as followers of Osama bin Laden because of their long flowing beard and turban, Bush on September 26, 2001, invited Dr Singh and 14 other Sikh representatives who headed Sikh organisations around the country to the White House to assure them that his administration would to everything in its power to protect the Sikh community from racial attacks.