Sikh community responds to Pittsburgh synagogue shooting with anguish and solidarity

No community should ever feel unsafe in their house of worship, and Sikhs nationwide stand in solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters as we grieve together - Sikh Coalition Executive Director Satjeet Kaur

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On June 17, 2015 a white supremacist murdered nine African Americans during a prayer service at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, injuring three more. On August 5, 2012, a neo-Nazi gunman with white supremacist ties walked into a Sikh gurdwara (house of worship) in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and murdered six Sikh Americans while injuring several more. At the time, the Oak Creek massacre was the deadliest act of violence in an American house of worship since the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama.“Our hearts break for everybody who is suffering through the unimaginable trauma and grief in Pittsburgh right now,” said Sikh Coalition Executive Director, Satjeet Kaur. “No community should ever feel unsafe in their house of worship, and Sikhs nationwide stand in solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters as we grieve together.”

Pardeep Kaleka, who lost his father Satwant Singh Kaleka in the Oak Creek massacre, has dedicated the last six years to befriending and working with reformed skinhead, Arno Michaelis, to build bridges and combat hate in communities across the United States. In response to the Charleston shooting in 2015, Pardeep drove from Wisconsin to South Carolina to support and defiantly stand in solidarity in response.

“These moments of unbearable anguish and trauma are intended to divide us even further, but these violent acts that target minority faiths and communities only strengthen our resolve to unite in our efforts to combat intolerance and bigotry in America,” said Kaleka.

For 17 years, the Sikh Coalition – the nation’s largest Sikh civil rights organization – has worked on policy, legal and educational efforts to combat and prevent hate in America. As a part of this never-ending work, the organization launched a gurdwara security initiative in 2016 that was designed to strengthen security measures at Sikh houses of worship across the United States, and works with the Department of Justice and FBI to ensure hate crimes are accurately tracked.

The Sikh Coalition works to combat bias, bigotry and backlash in the courtroom, classroom, community, and halls of Congress. For more information, including interviews with senior leaders at the Sikh Coalition or with Pardeep Kaleka, please contact Mark Reading-Smith.

 

RELATED STORY:

Dear America: Please stop expecting us to whitewash our names (Asia Samachar, 27 Oct 2018)

 

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