San Diego Sikh Community Reaches Out After Mass Shooting In Wisconsin
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Aired 8/7/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.
Gurinder Singh, Vice President, Sikh Foundation San Diego.
Amardeep Singh, Director of Operations, Sikh Foundation San Diego.
Brian Levin, Director, Center on Hate & Extremism, California State University, San Bernardino
Oscar Garcia, Deputy District Attorney, San Diego District Attorney's Hate Crimes Unit
The president of the Sikh Temple, or Gurudawa, in Poway, was childhood friends with two of the priests killed at a Wisconsin Sikh temple on Sunday, said Amardeep Singh, the director of operations for the Sikh Foundation San Diego.
Six worshippers in Wisconsin were killed by a gunman described as a white supremacist.
Sikh Foundation San Diego Vice President Gurinder Singh told KPBS the local Sikh community is not taking extra security precautions at their temples after the shooting.
"We've been part of the San Diego community for a very long time and we feel secure here," he said. "Our faith itself is open to all, our Gurudawa is always open, it has four doors for everybody, so we can't say, 'we're going to close down to anybody.'"
He said their focus instead is educating the community about the Sikh religion.
Sikhism is among the least-familiar faiths in America, and since the attacks of 9/11, it's estimated there have been more than 700 attacks against Sikhs in the U.S.
"We have to change perceptions to show that we're all Americans, we're all part of this country, hey, I'm as American as anyone else, I just happen to look different and have different beliefs," Gurinder Singh said.
He said Sikhism shares the American value of equality.
Amardeep Singh said although it's "a shame" Sikhism is mistaken for Islam, "a hate crime is a hate crime, we're all in this together."
A candlelight vigil for the shooting victims will be held Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the San Diego Gurudwara on 12269 Oak Knoll Rd. in Poway.
Claire Trageser contributed to this report.