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New York, Aug 6 – Remembering the victims of a mass shooting at a Sikh temple in the state of Wisconsin in 2012, top US leaders urged the community to rise above hatred, bigotry and work to end gun violence in the country.
On August 5, 2012, the Sikh community of Oak Creek came under attack when army veteran Wade Page stormed a Gurdwara in Wisconsin and gunned down six worshippers, before shooting himself dead.
A seventh person, who was severely paralysed, died from his injuries in 2020.
Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna and Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers took to Twitter on Saturday to pay respects to the Sikh community “that changed forever by an act of senseless shooting”.
“As we remember those who were tragically killed, let us condemn hate in any form and continue working to end the gun violence epidemic in this country,” Khanna wrote in his tweet.
“Today, on the anniversary of the shooting at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Kathy and I are thinking about the victims, their families, and a community forever changed by an act of senseless gun violence. We must keep working to ensure hate and violence never have a home here,” Governor Evers said.
Stating that hate has no home in Wisconsin, Senator Tammy Baldwin tweeted that on the 11th anniversary of the mass shooting, she is “thinking of all the victims, survivors, and their families. I stand with Wisconsin’s Sikh community as we rise above hate & violence with strength & unity”.
Sikhs account for 0.1 per cent of the US population as of 2021, forming the country’s sixth-largest religious group.
They have long been victims of hate and racial crimes in the US, and things took a turn for the worse after September 11 attacks when they were mistaken for Muslims due to their long beards.
Balbir Singh Sodhi, a 49 year-old Sikh businessman was the first victim of a hate crime linked to 9/11.
According to recent statistics revealed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a total of 1,005 hate crimes related to religion were reported in 2021 in the US with Sikhs being the most targeted religious groups.
The largest categories of religion-based crime included anti-Jewish incidents at 31.9 per cent followed by anti-Sikh incidents at 21.3 per cent, the FBI revealed.