August 4, 2013 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
Washington, August 3, 2013; As per a press release by Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE), a copy of which is available with the Sikh Siyasat News (SSN), the Sikh community in US has welcomed the US Attorney General’s support to help those who are still suffering from the effects of the Oak Creek tragedy and appreciates the decision of the Justice Department to start tracking the hate crimes against Sikhs in the United States.
On Friday, August 2nd, 2013, the U.S. government granted $512,000 to the Wisconsin state government to pay for mental health and trauma services for those affected by the shootings, including relatives of victims, witnesses and first responders. Exactly a year ago from this Monday, August 5th, 2013, Michael Wade Page, who had connections to white supremacy groups, walked into the Milwaukee Sikh Gurdwara (Temple) and fired 19 shots, killing 6 worshippers, and wounding 5 others including Lieutenant Bryan Murphy. After being fatally wounded in the parking lot by a police sniper, he then shot and killed himself.
This past week, the FBI finally added Sikhs to the list of groups they track hate crimes against and the Justice Department also will now record statistics on hate crimes committed against Sikhs and six other groups. As of Friday, the list includes Sikhs, Hindus, Arabs, Buddhists, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Orthodox Christians.
Dr. Rajwant Singh, Chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE), said, “This gesture by the Obama Administration means a lot to Sikhs across America. The community is grateful for all the support and assistance by the US Government. It sends an important signal that Sikhs are considered an integral part of America.”
He added, “A lot more needs to be done to create awareness about the presence of the Sikhs and their contribution to America. We have been here for the last one hundred years and yet people still have misunderstandings about our faith and its observances. The presence of Sikhs in high profile positions in the government, having more education regarding diversity in the school books and extensive awareness about Sikhs at the local levels are the necessary steps which could avert any further violence against Sikhs. The media has an important role to play in creating this understanding about diverse cultures like Sikhs in the American society.”
“If nothing else, the horrific tragedy and memory of these victims has helped shine a light on this community in a way that there hasn’t been before,” said General Eric Holder , “But, in order to honor their untimely losses by ensuring that justice can be done, they do need to be counted.”
SCORE has appealed to all Sikhs to offer prayers on Monday, August 5th, for the families who have been affected by the tragedy in Oak Creek and to show their solidarity with the Sikhs in Wisconsin and offer thanks to America for the support that the community has received at all levels.
The White House had celebrated the centennial of Sikh success in America on July 6 which SCORE helped coordinate. It brought together 150 Sikh business leaders and CEOs of various companies to show the contributions of the Sikhs in America.
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