Local Sikh Community Reacts to Deadly Temple Shooting
As the images of the temple massacre in Wisconsin began to emerge on Sunday, there was concern at the Sikh temple in Bedford. Several local members have friends and relatives in Milwaukee.
Jasvinder Singh Khatra told Fox 8, “I called my nephew, he said ‘my dad is in there, but I don’t know what happened, somebody told me he got shot’.”
Khatra said he later learned that his cousin, Subegh Singh, 84, was one of the six people killed in the shooting rampage. When asked if he was angry, Khatra said “no, I just feel sad, very sad.”
Members of the local Sikh temple are hoping the tragedy in Wisconsin will serve as a teaching moment.
“I’m proud to be an American, and I’m not trying to say it to please somebody, because this country has given me so much,” said Baltek Randhawa.
Community leaders said the Sikhs have been fighting extremists like the Taliban for centuries, but since 9/11, the uneducated and misinformed have unfairly painted Sikh-Americans with the same brush as America’s enemies.
“Most of the people, their mindsets are there, that anybody wearing a turban is part of either Al Qaeda or the Taliban,” said Randhawa.
Members of the temple in Bedford believe the massacre in Wisconsin is also a reminder of the responsibilities that they have as citizens.
“You’re American first, then anything else later, so go out, reach the ‘common Joe’, or ‘average Joe’, and do what you can do with the same feeling what you do for a fellow Indian”, said Randhawa. “You should do the same thing because you are an American now.”
Members of the community said they are now discussing new security measures at the temple. They said they consider themselves peaceful people, but they now see a need to protect themselves.