Yesterday, a 40 year old Army veteran, Wade Michael Page, left six people dead, 7 including himself, after he walked into a Sikh temple in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek Wisconsin and started shooting. Currently, the FBI is investigating whether or not this is a hate-crime against Sikhs.
Sikhs who often wear turbans, have sometimes been mistaken for Muslims, causing a number of hate-crimes on people of the Sikh faith in the U.S., especially after the 9/11 attacks. According to CNN, the Sikh Coalition, a New York based advocacy group reported that more than 700 attacks against Sikhs have occurred since 2001. A tragic example, in September 2001 Balbir Singh Sodhi, an Arizona gas station owner was shot five times and killed by a man who said he wanted revenge against Muslims for 9/11.
Some information about Sikhism:
- Sikhism is a monotheistic religion that was founded more than 500 years ago in the Punjab area of both India and Pakistan by Guru Nanak.
- Practicing Sikh males often wear turbans, do not shave their beards or do not cut their hair. The Sikh turban symbolizes discipline, integrity, humility, and spirituality.
- To date there are approximately 27 million Sikhs around the world and 500,000 in the U.S. The largest Sikh population remains in India's Punjab province.
- The Sikh scripture book is called the GuruGranthSahib and any building that holds the book is a Sikh place of worship, which is also calledGudwarawhich means Gateway to the Guru.
- The Sikh faith believes in only one God and that the soul goes through cycles of rebirth and death before it reaches human form.
- The universal symbol of Sikhism is the khanda which is a double-edged sword with two daggers. The khanda represents worldly and spiritual powers bound by unity with God.