RANDALLSTOWN, Md. (WJZ)– Authorities investigate a mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. Seven people are dead, including the gunman. Police are calling it an act of domestic terrorism. This shooting is especially alarming to the hundreds of Sikh who worship right here in Baltimore.
Derek Valcourt has more on their reaction and heartbreak.
For many of them, this is a nightmare come true. They are worried their Wisconsin brethren were targeted because of their faith.
At the Sikh Gurudwara Temple in Randallstown, they’re offering prayers for the shooting victims halfway across the country in Wisconsin.
“We feel our deepest condolences and sympathies to the families of the victims, also to the police officer who bravely fought,” Jesse Singh of the Randallstown Sikh temple said.
While authorities have not disclosed a motive for the Wisconsin attack yet, the Sikhs here say they are often mistaken for Muslims because of their appearance, and that has made them targets of discrimination and even hate crimes.
“Just since 9/11, our community is under fear that this kind of thing which happened today in Wisconsin could happen anywhere, anytime,” Shammi Singh said.
The Sikh Coalition, a civil rights group based in Washington, D.C., says since Sept. 11, there has been an alarming increase in the number of incidents of harassment, intimidation, and even violence against Sikhs across the country.
“There’s a perception out there because of the articles of faith that we have — which is a turban and a beard — that people misunderstand us,” Jesse Singh explained. “We are not Taliban. We are not al-Qaeda.”
Sikhism is its own religion, not Islamic or Hindu. And these Sikhs have opened the temple doors to give others an insight into what they say is their misunderstood faith.
“Our religion teaches us to be peaceful and love the other community and love other religions,” Shammi Singh said.
And though Sikhs are not Muslim, the president of Maryland’s Muslim Council came to stand in solidarity with the local Sikh community.
“We cannot let the evil people or people who are mentally unstable or insane or whatever you call them, to take away the initiative. So that’s why we’re here– to show the Sikh community that we share your sorrow,” Dr. Hasan Jalisi said.
Members of the Sikh community in the Baltimore area say that in the next few days they will be working to assess what kind of assistance to offer the Sikh community in Wisconsin.