Tragedy turns spotlight on Sikh religion - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Tragedy turns spotlight on Sikh religion


Sikhs around the world are mourning the shooting rampage in Oak Creek. Sikhism is the fifth most popular religion in the world, with 700,000 worshipers living in the United States. But now their culture is facing a tragedy, and it's not the first time.

Sikh officials say their religion is based on three things; honest living, equality and service to others, and remembering God in their everyday life.

"It is the responsibility of every Sikh to make sure they give back to the community around them," Kavneet Singh, Managing Director of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund said.

But now they feel outrage.

"An attack on any of us is an attack on all of us," Singh said.

Sikhs protested outside the US Embassy in India, the religion's birthplace, to show support for their brothers and sisters across the world.

"It's about solidarity," Singh said. "To show no matter where, we care."

 But, this isn't the first time this group has been attacked. Following September 11th there have been reports of gun violence, vandalism, and robberies. To the tune of more than 700 reported attacks in the United States.

"I just want people to know that they shouldn't be mistaken by us, and 'cause we have turbans and long beards too, and that's just our religion, and it's very peaceful," Temple member Maleen Rajput said.

After 9/11 the Justice Department reports a Sikh was the first person to be murdered in retaliation.

"A gas station owner in Arizona who was brutally and terribly gunned down by someone who thought he was Muslim," U.S. Attorney James Santelle said during a press conference.

Now, after the deadly shooting, some Sikh families are once again living in fear.

"There is a heightened sense of concern," Singh said. "Not only is this an attack on people but they went to a place of worship, a place that is supposed to be peaceful."

But, Sikh leaders say this tragedy will only make them stronger. And, they will fight.

"It's been an opportunity to educate people on a massive level on who we are. Been a huge outpour of support."

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