Local Sikh Community Reacts To Wisconsin Shootings | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Local Sikh Community Reacts To Wisconsin Shootings

Play associated audio

As police in Oak Creek, Wisc., search for a motive in Sunday's shooting at a Sikh temple, local Sikh leaders are offering support and answers to the question of why.

Jasjit Singh is the executive director of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund or SALDEF, the oldest Sikh American civil rights organization based here in Washington D.C. When he got the text about the shooting Sunday afternoon, he says he immediately got on a plane to Wisconsin.

"Once this news broke, it was just clear that we needed to be here on the ground, because nothing like this has ever hit our community," said Singh by phone Monday.

Singh was there in time for Monday's press conference, where local and federal authorities offered support, but few answers in connection with the murders which took the lives of six worshipers inside a Sikh temple.

"There's still an unclear assessment of what this individual's motivation might be, but as an advocacy group, we have a strong sense of what it might be," says Singh.

That's because Singh has witnessed and provided legal aid and support for many in the local Sikh community who've been targeted with threats of violence. Some people confuse Sikhs with radical Muslim fundamentalists, says Manjit Singh, co-founder of SALDEF. Some local Sikhs have received threats based on such misconceptions.

"It's primarily because of ignorance," says Manjit Singh. "The fact that the overwhelming number of Americans don't know who Sikhs are and equate the turban and the beard to people of the Middle East — Iraq, Iran, the Taliban, and Afganistan — I mean there's a huge slew of misconceptions."

 

Some of the visible articles of faith include hair, beard, and a turban worn by men. 

“The hair is seen as a gift by God ... and the school of thought is we do not want to alter something that is an natural gift by the divine," Manjit Singh says. "The hair is thought as an integral part of the Sikh’s identity.”

Manjit Singh hopes that continuing to educate the wider community about Sikhs and their culture will help avoid the mistrust and threats which have shadowed the community. 

Both men applauded D.C. police chief Cathy Lanier's efforts to increase security at Sikh temples and other places of worship locally following yesterday's shooting in Wisconsin.

 

NPR

The Colorful, Blossoming D.C. Arts Scene In The 1950s, '60s

In 1965 the work of six local painters went on exhibit at the now-defunct Washington Gallery of Modern Art. The show launched a movement, and the painters' work now hangs in major museums. One of those artists, now 97, lives in Arlington, Va.
NPR

Cash For Halloween Candy? Dentists' Buyback Program Is Booming

If you're like many parents, by tomorrow morning you'll be facing a candy glut. One possible solution? Sell it to a dentist participating in a program that sends candy care packages to troops.
NPR

For This Colorado Voter, Oil And Gas Debate Plays Out On His Property

Knocking on doors in Colorado, Steve Inskeep asks Antionio Covello about the election. The successful Denver business owner, a conservative, weighs mineral rights, foreign policy and division at home.
NPR

Selfies With Bears Prompt Warning From Park Rangers

Selfies with bears are showing up on Instagram. Rangers in South Lake Tahoe have been sufficiently worried to issue a warning: Wild bears are unpredictable, and could attack. #bearselfie

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.