National Sikh Center in Maryland Shocked by Wisconsin Shootings
"Our community is where we pray for world peace and we really welcome all faiths and religions," Sikh spokesperson said.
A spokesperson for the National Sikh Center in Maryland said the Sikh community is in shock over the deaths Sunday of seven people at the hands of a gunman at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee.
A special prayer service was held Sunday at the center at 13814 Travilah Road, Rockville, MD.
"The whole Sikh community is very shocked," said Mandeep Singh, a volunteer helping with communications at the center. "We are really perplexed as to why the Sikh community has been targeted. Our community is where we pray for world peace and we really welcome all faiths and religions."
He said Sikhs were targeted after 911 and "since then there have been a lot of hate crime incidents." He said he was awaiting word on the motive behind the latest incident.
He said there is not single national body representing the Sikh religion in the United States but that his center is the national capital center and represents temples nationwide on some issues.
Reports about the shooting say the gunman was shot down by police at the scene.
Across the country, both Sikhs and non-Sikhs shared their sadness at the event.
The attack felt sadly familiar to Sikhs in Elk Grove, CA., coming a year after two Sikh men were gunned down in a case that still is unsolved, and amid an ongoing campaign by community leaders to convince the FBI to better track hate crimes against Sikhs.
“The Sacramento Sikh Community, like our brother and sisters across the country, is dismayed to learn of the horrible tragedy unfolding in the Milwaukee area today,” Darshan Mundy, a spokesperson for the Sacramento Sikh Temple, said in a statement. “The Sikh community has been the subject of many attacks over the years and since 9-11. At times like this, we must rely on our faith and join as a community to deal with this tragedy.”
"We need protection here, too," said Jaswinder Singh, a committee member at Guru Nanak Sikh Society of Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania. "We’re not feeling safe. ... Everyone is calling and contacting the committee, asking if it's safe to come to the temple."
A 12-year-old member of the Sikh Temple of Iowa in West Des Moines had some keen insight about the shooting.
"It's tragic, and probably a misconception of who we are," Jeevanjot Singh said. "I think it's because of the turbans, and the stereotype that people who wear turbans are Muslim, and after 9/11, people think Muslims are bad."
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, whose parents are practicing Sikhs, posted this message on her Facebook Page:
"It's very sad to see something like this happen to a peaceful place of worship. Our prayers and condolences go out to the families of the innocent victims and the family of the heroic officer in this senseless tragedy," Haley said via her Facebook page.
Malkit Singh Gill, president of the New England Sikh Study Circle in Milford, MA, reflected on how this would affect his community going forward.
“I need to be thinking about what the next step is for the temple. We are hard-working, peace-loving people and it’s sad that one person is trying to put fear in to us,” Gill said.