US Gurudwara shooting a hate crime, says Sikh communities

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us-gurudwara-shootingAug 6, Milwaukee (US): The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has started investigations into the Gurudwara shooting that left seven people including the suspected gunman dead and several others injured in Wisconsin on Sunday morning. Four people died inside the Gurudwara, the others were killed outside.

Witnesses have described the attacker as a tall, bald, white man, about 40 years of age, dressed in a white T-shirt and black military pants and had many tattoos. One witness said he spotted a 9/11 tattoo on one arm of the shooter. The police suspect that the man lives close to the Gurudwara. A law enforcement official said he was not wearing a bullet proof vest.

The 40-year-old man is said to be a resident of the same neighbourhood, entered the Gurdwara from the kitchen side with a gun, when food was being prepared for Sunday community lunch, and started firing indiscriminately. By the time the police arrived and engaged him in a gun fight, he had shot dead 6 persons and injured at least 10.

While police have not identified the gunman, who was killed by police, or described a possible motive for the Wisconsin shootings, several leaders of Sikh organizations nationwide say the killings have brought to the surface fears that have lingered since 9/11 when some ignorant about their beliefs began mistaking them for potential terrorists.

“This is something we have been fearing since 9/11, that this kind of incident will take place,” said Rajwant Singh, chairman of the Washington-based Sikh Council on Religion and Education. “It was a matter of time because there’s so much ignorance and people confuse us (as) being members of Taliban or belonging to (Osama) bin Laden.”

Sikhs and their supporters in the United States and India reacted with sorrow, disbelief and anger Sunday to news of shooting. The Sikh Coalition, which describes itself as the largest Sikh American civil rights organization in the United States, has started an emergency response.

“The Sikh Coalition’s thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the shooting, the Sikh community of Milwaukee, and the larger community of Wisconsin, which we know will stand with their Sikh neighbors with their support and prayers during this very trying time,” said Sapreet Kaur, the group’s executive director.

“There have been multiple hate crime shootings within the Sikh community in recent years and the natural impulse of our community is to unfortunately assume the same in this case. Let’s let law enforcement investigate the case and as new facts emerge the dialogue can change. Americans died today in a senseless act of violence and Americans of all faiths should stand in unified support with their Sikh brothers and sisters,” he added.

President Barack Obama and his presidential challenger, Mitt Romney, expressed their sorrow in statements. 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.

Obama reviewed the security situation with his top national security aides following the tragic shooting in a gurdwara in Wisconsin and also called on gurdwara trustee to offer his condolences.

Obama convened a call with the FBI Director Robert Mueller, the chief of staff Jack Lew, and the homeland security advisor John Brennan on Sunday to receive an update on the tragic shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, the White House said.

Following the briefing, the Obama called Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, Oak Creek mayor Steve Scaffidi and trustee of the gurdwara Charanjeet Singh to express his condolences for the lives lost and his concern for those who were injured.

News Gathered by India News

Posted by on Monday, August 6th, 2012. Filed under World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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