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San Diego Sikh Community Reaches Out After Mass Shooting In Wisconsin

Evening Edition

Above: Gurinder Singh, vice president of the Sikh Foundation San Diego, and Amardeep Singh, director of operations for the Sikh Foundation San Diego, talk to KPBS.

Aired 8/7/12 on KPBS Midday Edition.

Guests

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

Transcript

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.

Comments

Avatar for user 'cosmoquark'

cosmoquark | August 7, 2012 at 6:54 p.m. ― 1 year, 8 months ago

Why are spokespersons for the Sikh community asked to distinguish themselves from Muslims so reluctant to point out that their religion is actually a reform outgrowth from and modernization movement of Hinduism? Although this historical fact would help those unfamiliar with Sikhism to understand they are not Muslims, they hardly ever mention it.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | August 7, 2012 at 10:30 p.m. ― 1 year, 8 months ago

Cosmoquark, the crazies don't care. The vast majority of Americans believe in freedom of religion, and as long as someone is not out trying to forcibly convert or use their faith for political purposes, let them live in peace.

But the small minority of loonie racists who have been harassing Sikhs since 9-11 could care less if the religion is an outgrowth of Hinduism or anything else for that matter. To these lunatics, it's all about race and hatred and ignorance - and a **stubborn unwillingness to learn about or respect those different from them**.

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