Sikhs saddened by the tragic killing at Wisconsin Gurdwara
Published: August 6, 2012
Washington (August 6, 2012): Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE), has expressed shock and grief at the tragic killing of Sikhs in a shooting by a gun man which appears to be an apparent hate crime. At least seven people were shot dead, including a suspected gunman, during a shooting at a Sikh Gurdwara in Wisconsin.
Dr. Rajwant Singh, Chairman of the SCORE said, “We are deeply saddened that a outrageous act of this nature will take place in a spiritual center. This is am American tragedy not a Sikh tragedy.
He further added, “Our heart goes out to the families of the Granthis ( Sikh Preists) whose life has been taken away and we also pray for the well being of the two police officers who have been injured while engaging the gun man. They prevented a bigger tragedy to happen. They are truly heroes”
Dr. Rajwant Singh said, “I called the White House immediately as the situation unfolded and wanted an immediate Presidential involvement in this situation and we are glad that President Obama acted promptly. We are also touched by a statement by Gov. Romney. They both have expressed their sentiments and their solidarity with the Sikh community.”
A White House official said Obama was notified of the Wisconsin shooting shortly before 1 p.m. by Homeland Security Adviser John Brennan. He was updated later in the afternoon by Brennan, FBI Director Robert Mueller and White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew.
President Barack Obama said Sunday that he and first lady Michelle Obama are “deeply saddened” by the killing of at least six people Sunday at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, and promised his administration will provide “whatever support is necessary” to those investigating the shooting.
“At this difficult time, the people of Oak Creek must know that the American people have them in our thoughts and prayers, and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those who were killed and wounded,” Obama said in a statement issued by the White House.
“As we mourn this loss which took place at a house of worship, we are reminded how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs, who are a part of our broader American family,” the president said.
The president also spoke by telephone with Charanjeev Singh, trustee of the Sikh Temple, as well as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi.
Mitt Romney, likely Republican challenger for the presidency, also expressed his sorrow about the shooting.
“This was a senseless act of violence and a tragedy that should never befall any house of worship,” Romney said in a statement. “Our hearts are with the victims, their families, and the entire Oak Creek Sikh community. We join Americans everywhere in mourning those who lost their lives and in prayer for healing in the difficult days ahead.”
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, whose parents are Sikh, posted a statement with condolences to “the innocent victims and the family of the heroic officer” on her Facebook page.
Dr. Singh stated, “This is something we have been fearing since 9/11, that this kind of incident will take place. It was a matter of time because there’s so much ignorance and people mistakenly identify us as members of Taliban or belonging to (Osama) bin Laden’s deadly network.Any incident that occurs in the Middle East or any major loss of life of American troops in Iraq or Afghanistan has always created a fear that there would be some reaction or retaliation in the US. We didn’t know when or to what scale it would happen.”
Singh said those fears were realized this morning. “It is an immense tragedy.”
Sartaj Singh Dhami, Outreach Director of SCORE and a youth leader in the Washington area, “A tragic loss for America that shows much work towards peace, community, and understanding is needed. To honor the memory of all those lost or injured, the entire Sikh community of America ask their fellow Americans to sit down for lunch this upcoming Sunday at their nearest Gurudwara.”
Mohinder Singh Taneja, Sikh Activist from NY and SCORE official, said, “Most Americans believe that anybody wearing a turban is a Muslim or is in the Taliban or is a bin Laden follower,” said Singh. “Ironically, 99 percent of the people who wear turbans are Sikhs.”
Rajwant Singh, from the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, put the onus on politicians, the media, academics and non-profit leaders to educate Americans about diverse groups and act “to lessen this kind of rage.” He called it a tragedy Sikhs, growing up in the United States feel as if they don’t belong in this country after incidents such as this.
“Everybody should feel at home,” he said. “This nation belongs to everyone.”have appealed for calm Dr. Rajwant Singh, Chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education.
There are an estimated 2,500 to 3,000 families of the Sikh religion in the Milwaukee area and two temples.
The Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, where the attack took place on Sunday, was founded in October 1997 with a community of 20 to 25 families. It has 350 to 400 people in its congregation and has grown rapidly. The other temple, or gurdwara, as Sikh places of worship are called, is in Brookfield, Wisconsin, about 30 miles away in the northern suburbs of Milwaukee. There are 700,000 Sikhs in the United States and have been of the nation since late 1800′s.