A Sikh body is urging its members to show restraint and not jump to conclusions, following a shooting incident in a gurdwara in Wisonsin in the United States on Sunday afternoon. A gunman killed and injured many worshippers before he was shot dead by the police in a three-hour battle.
There have been multiple hate crime shootings within the Sikh community in recent years, says Sapreet Kaur, executive director of The Sikh Coalition, the largest Sikh American civil rights organization.
“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.
The number of casualties is not known yet, but a many worshippers have been reportedly shot dead in the US gurdwara shooting.
“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.”
With multiple news outlets reporting varying facts on what transpired at the Sikh temple (or Gurdwara) this story remains an evolving and fluid situation, said the Sikh body.
“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,” says Sapreet.
The Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin was founded in 1997 and had over 400 peaceful worshipers that worked and lived in the greater Milwaukee area.
The Gurdwara, known as being a wonderful neighbor, had come to represent the valued contributions of the Sikh faith in a community where Sikhism was understood to be another contributing fabric in the cloth of American plurality.
“I just want to say this temple was built a number of years ago and there have never been any problems with this temple,” Oak Creek Alderman Dan Jakubczyk says. “They’ve been a plus to this city and to my district.”
With over 25 million followers worldwide, Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world; it has 500,000 followers in America.
“The Sikh Coaliton has been in touch with both the FBI’s Civil Rights Division and the White House and both have promised to continue to be in touch with our staff as they monitor the situation closely,” says the Sikh body.