Tuesday, 7 August 2012

oak creek

i've been caught up in the activities of ramadan, amongst other things, and blogging has been way down on the list.  with the days being so short in winter, everything is a big rush in the evenings, and then we're off to the mosque for extra prayers.  i have to say that i have rarely felt such a high level of serenity that when praying at the mosque this ramadan.  at peace with myself and the world, it's a kind of fulfilment that i can't imagine obtaining in any other way.

however, my serenity has been rather shattered today with news of the shooting at a sikh gurdwara in america.  the second mass shooting in a month, and this one seems to be a hate crime.  while a killing at any venue is a horrific and tragic event, shooting people at there place of worship at a time that is of particular significance to them? well that just seems to me to need a special degree of callousness.

the names of the dead, which have been posted on twitter, are Bhai Seeta Singh, Bhai Parkash Singh, Bhai Rangeet Singh, Satwant Singh Kaleka, Subegh Singh, Parmjeet Kaur Toor.  these are people belonging to families, with many & varied connections.  i can't begin to imagine the grief felt by this whole community.  i'd also like to acknowledge the police officer who was injured during the incident.

there's been much said at various places about the possibility that this sikh community was mistaken for muslims.  yes, that's possible, but it's not relevant to anything.  it would have been a terrible tragedy had it happened to a muslim community, or to any community.  there is no group of people who somehow are "more deserving" of a tragedy like this.  to set up groups targeted by hate crime against each other, in some kind of competition, is pretty nasty.

if anything, the fact that the sikh community has been targetted since 9/11 shows that all communities need better protection from hate-filled rhetoric.  this particular community has previous complained about harassment (link also from twitter), and i hope that some journalist in that community starts asking questions about what concrete steps were taken by law enforcement authorities to ensure the safety and security of this community.

here is a particularly touching piece written by a sikh american.  i strongly recommend you read the whole piece, but i thought this point was particularly well made:

Obviously, the Sikh community realized very quickly that fall that it wouldn't do to simply say, "Don't hate me, I'm not a Muslim." And by and large people have avoided that particular phrasing and rhetoric. The Sikh advocacy organizations that were organized shortly after 9/11, chief among them the Sikh Coalition, were very emphatic on the point that they were opposed to hate crimes directed against any group based on religious hostility.

the twitter hashtag which has some useful information is #templeshooting.  my condolences to the sikh community of oak creek.

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