Reflections on the Oak Creek Massacre of Sikhs – Dr. N.S. Kapany

Sikh Gurdwara of Wisconsin Shooting Aug 5 2012Sikhs hold up placards with photos of six mass shooting victims after a candlelight vigil in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Aug. 7, 2012. (REUTERS)

Fundamentalism of all religions is a curse to humanity. This is true for Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and all other world religions. The massacre of 6 Sikh men and women and the wounding of 4 others including the American policeman Lt. Brian Murphy are atrocities which the entire humankind needs to comprehend. Furthermore the legal question of control of arms and ammunition issued to unwarranted persons must be fully reviewed and tightened by the Federal Government of the United States.

The Sikh community has suffered from numerous atrocities during its entire existence. In 1984, the attack by the Indian Government on the Golden Temple in Amritsar-India was an atrocity that the Sikh Foundation naively assumed should be fully covered by posting full page advertisements in leading newspapers of San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Washington and Los Angeles. We assumed that a full page advertisement would make the Americans aware of the existence of the Sikhs and their unique contribution to the US for the last 100 years. Now we understand why the efforts of the Jewish people in constantly bringing to the world’s attention though newspapers, magazines, television, radio, films & museums the atrocities of the holocaust they have suffered, is an absolute necessity.

Sikh Gurdwara of Wisconsin Shooting Aug 5 2012The first ever Asian American that became a member of the US Congress in 1957 was indeed a Sikh – Dalip Singh Saund.

It is generally assumed that there are only half a million Sikhs living in the US, which I believe is not correct. In my opinion there are almost 1 million Sikhs living in this country. There are about 250-300 Gurudwaras (Sikh temples) in the US. The first ever Asian American that became a member of the US Congress in 1957 was indeed a Sikh – Dalip Singh Saund. Now we have Sikhs excelling in numerous areas of science, agriculture, media, entrepreneurship, academics, medicine and numerous others. Within a radius of 100 miles of the Silicon Valley there are no less than 50 Sikhs successfully running their companies, creating valuable products and providing jobs for a large number of Americans. These are extremely hard working people with a deep civic sense.

All of as Sikhs should become unwritten delegates of our community to convey to the world the beliefs and practices of Sikhs. Some of these important guidelines are as follows:

  • Absolute equality of all human beings.
  • Respect for all religions.
  • Fairness in all dealings.
  • Partake in the civic activities of the local communities wherever we live.
  • Partake in helping the poor.
  • Support our children in their education, sports and community service activities.
  • All Sikh men, women and children follow the teachings of our Gurus as enshrined in our holy book, the Sri Guru Granth Sahib.
Dr. Narinder S KapanyDr. Narinder S Kapany

We at the Sikh Foundation stand in full solidarity with the families of the victims and the sangat of the Oak Creek Gurudwara. While this tragedy has brought the Sikh community, its faith and practices in the forefront at this time, increasing number of people are asking if this tragedy will change anything. We have explored through many articles and news reports that have come out in the past days and present before you a selection of thoughts which reflect the varying & sympathetic viewpoints. These articles in our webpage have been selected to present a timeline format of what happened, how it has been perceived in the mainstream American media, its historical background, the representation of Sikh Art internationally and the continuing problem of hate crimes against Sikhs. There will be many different responses to this tragic event that will help shape the future of the Sikh community in this country. We will try and bring to you those initiatives in the following months.

As Sikhs we stand united against bigotry anywhere in the world regardless of religion, race, color, creed and ethnicity.

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n the Wake of the Temple Shootings, a New Call for Sikh Leadership

In the Wake of the Temple Shootings, a New Call for Sikh Leadership

Sunday’s shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin represents a pivotal moment for Sikhs. Depending on the nature and extent of the Sikh response. Read More

 

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In Sikhs’ View, There is no Stranger

In Sikhs’ View, There is no Stranger

If the assailant at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin had been simply a curious neighbor or a local visitor, he would have been warmly welcomed for morning tea and snacks as the community assembled for worship. Read More

 

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Vigils Held Coast to Coast

Vigils Held Coast to Coast

On the morning of Aug. 5, as women prepared langaar in the gurdwara’s kitchen, alleged white supremacist Wade Michael Page attacked the temple, brandishing a nine millimeter shotgun. Read More

 

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Silence after Sikh Shooting is Deafening

Silence after Sikh Shooting is Deafening

The dialogue around this country since six people were shot at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin has been as elementary as a “Sesame Street” episode. People are sad. They are confused. Read More

 

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From Stockton to Oak Creek by Prof. G.S Mann & Dr. Ami P. Shah

From Stockton to Oak Creek by Prof. G.S Mann & Dr. Ami P. Shah

…from a small two-storied building in Stockton in 1912 to a17,000 square foot gurdwara in Oak Creek in 2012, the Sikhs have created a unique century of history in the United States. Read More

 

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Reflections Of A Unique Spiritual, Secular Sikhism Identity

Reflections Of A Unique Spiritual, Secular Sikhism Identity

These artworks tell a compelling story of the Sikh people and the forging of a culture rooted in the teachings of Nanak and the “ethical conduct and equality of all people.” Read More

 

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Dalbir Singh: Another Sikh Killed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Dalbir Singh: Another Sikh Killed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

By framing the Oak Creek massacre as an isolated incident, we delude ourselves into thinking of it as a randomized event carried out by a troubled individual. However, if we place the gurdwara shooting within its broader context, we can clearly see that it fits a troubling pattern of hate and bigotry within this country. Read More

 

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Stop American Tragedies; Introducing the BeProud Movement

Stop American Tragedies; Introducing the BeProud Movement

Had these events taken place in my hometown of San Jose, my parents, who pay their respects daily, could have been inside the gurdwara. I immediately knew I needed to do something. This was not the America we all signed up for. Read More

 

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Slow Recovery at US Sikh Temple

Slow Recovery at US Sikh Temple

As you turn the car onto the drive to the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, next to the sign letting you know you are in the right place are six simple white markers. Read More

 

 

 

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6 Responses

  1. Jagtar says:

    Wow, the most prominent part of this article is the picture of the author. Wish the victims were not bunched in one at the bottom. There is some substance and we all must resolve to work together.
    Self promotion is not the answer.
    For a change let us put our community first.
    JS.

    • Sikh Foundation says:

      After reading your comment, we agreed that the image of the vigil should be higher up. This change has been made. Thank you for your feedback.
      The Sikh Foundation

  2. Dr S Dhillon says:

    I very much like the first sentence and hope we do something about it. Thanks Dr. Kapany.

    The real aim of a religion is spirituality, which is the final product! When religion is used as a shield to protect our insecurities, then it becomes a religious war! “Science, religion & Spirituality.”

  3. HARJAP SINGH AUJLA says:

    Dr. Narinder Singh Kapany is right in his observation that in spite of inserting full page adds in America’s national newspapers after the massacre of June 1984, the Sikh is still a thoroughly misunderstood individual. Some Americans simply refuse to know about the unique identity of the practicing Sikhs. It is these folks who hate the Sikhs the most.

  4. Bachhittar Singh says:

    The quote from the write up by Dr. N.S. Kapany “Fundamentalism of all religions is a curse to humanity. This is true for Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and all other world religions”.
    is very true.
    It may be more difficult to make others change, but can we begin by changing ourselves. Let us take down the pictures of Bhindranwall from all Gurdwaras, he was a fundamentalist who did moe damage to Sikhs than any other person in history. Thousands were killed because of his leadership.
    Fundamentalists in our religion refuse to treat non-Keshadhari Sikhs as equal Sikhs, Can we start by changing that and accept them in the fold of Guru nanak’s religion where ” Na Ko Bairi Nahey bagana Sagal sangh hum ko ban aiyee” is the basis of universal love for all humans.

    i solicit other comments on this issue.

    A true Singh

  5. Gurbaksh Singh Oberoi says:

    Fundamentalism is indeed a Curse for the entire Humanity.
    The word ‘Sikh’ literally means a follower/seeker/disciple. Any person who,therefore, truly believes in and follows the teachings of Guru Nanak and those included in Sri Guru Granth Sahib is a true Sikh, irrespective of how he/she looks outwardly.
    The Sikhs believe that we are ALL chilldren ONE COMMON GOD and we belong to one Common Human Race.The Sikhs believe in ‘Sarbat da Bhala'( Welfare of ALL).
    Dr. Sarup Singh Alag has brought out an Excellent/Authentic Book,’Guru Granth Sahib, A Supreme Treasure’. This should be widely publicised for educating the people on Sikhism.
    Sikhism is true HUMANTARIANISM.