From Seattle area Sikhs, shock and sadness at Wis. killing

Aug 6, 2012

Sikh communities around the Puget Sound region say they’re dismayed and saddened by the mass killing at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin Sunday, and they’re appealing for more education and outreach to the broader public.

To some, Sunday’s shooting, which left six people and the gunman dead, was part of a disturbing trend. Gurdev Singh Mann of Renton said since 9/11 there have been sporadic hate crimes against Sikhs, mainly by people who mistake them for radical Muslims. He said after an incident like Sunday’s, it’s hard not to feel like the atmosphere is getting worse.

“We lost a lot of good people. We are still getting targeted,” Mann said.

Mann, president of the Renton Gurudwara, or house of worship, said they plan to meet with local law enforcement, and hope police will step up patrols.

To Jaswinder Singh, his counterpart at the Gurudwara Sikh Center of Seattle, the killing doesn’t necessarily signal that there’s more hostility toward his religion.

“I don’t think this is like a war on Sikhs or anything like that, you know? It’s just one of those isolated things. I mean, there’s far more kindness than hate,” Singh said.

Still, Singh said members of his congregation will also be meeting with law enforcement.

Sikhs in both Seattle and Renton plan to hold candlelight vigils on Saturday night to memorialize the victims in Wisconsin. Each will take place at the respective gurudwaras, and will be open to the public.