Violence against Sikhs, especially in our post-September 11 world, is nothing new. Due to their customs and a lack of knowledge about their beliefs and standing, members of the monotheistic religion are regularly mistaken for Islamic adherents. For obvious reasons, this has created a multitude of problems for Sikhs. The violent attack on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin on Sunday is yet another reminder of the pain and suffering that this religious minority has endured.
While we don’t yet have all of the details surrounding the case, we know that the suspected gunman, Wade Michael Page, is said to have been a white supremacist. Some have wondered if the Army vet’s shooting rampage was rooted in a wrongful assumption — that those he was attacking were Muslims. Others have claimed that, regardless of alleged anti-Islamic sentiment, his attack on the temple was a hate crime.
As the facts are being sorted through and the victims and their families being tended to, this tragic incident provides an opportunity to answer some important questions about the Sikh community — who comprises it, what do they believe and how do the faith’s tenets mesh with American values?
Part of the confusion surrounding adherents is rooted in their tradition of not cutting their hair or beards and of wearing turbins. As a result they are frequently mistaken for Muslims. TheBlaze originally reported in July 2011 that members of the Sikh community in America claim that more than 700 hate crimes have been waged against them since the 9/11 attacks in 2011.
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