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Triangle Sikhs blame ignorance for Wisconsin temple shooting

Posted August 5, 2012
Updated August 6, 2012

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— Sikhs of the Triangle said hatred and ignorance were to blame for a mass shooting at a Wisconsin temple Sunday.

An unidentified gunman killed six people at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee in a rampage that left terrified congregants hiding in closets and others texting friends outside for help. The suspect was killed outside the temple in a shootout with police officers.

Police called the attack an act of domestic terrorism, but did not provide any details about the gunman or suggest a possible motive, including whether he specifically targeted the Sikh temple.

Tejphal Singh Dhillon, who co-founded the 600-member Sikh Gurdwara of North Carolina in Durham, said the victims in Wisconsin share a common enemy with Sikhs in the Triangle.

"Our common enemy is hatred and ignorance," he said. "If we can remove this hatred and ignorance, then we'd all be winners."

Daljit Caberwal, another of the temple's founding members, said that people have a lot of misunderstandings about the Sikh religion.

"I don't know the exact motivation, but I think one of the reasons could be mistaking Sikhs for the followers of bin Laden," Caberwal said. "We are mistaken for our identity."

Sikh men traditionally wear turbans and grow beards, Caberwal said, which causes them to frequently be confused with Muslims. 

"When September 11 happened, pictures of bin Laden were posted on the TV and press media wearing a turban and a beard," he said. "Basically, it's a question of ignorance. Hopefully, with more education, people will soon find out who Sikhs are and hopefully this confusion will someday will go away."

He said the Sikh faith – the fifth largest religion in the world with about 80 percent of its followers living in India – is "peace-loving." There are about 250,000 to 300,000 in the United States.

"We are proud to be patriotic, fellow Americans," he said. "This incident is an unfortunate one... (but) once we come to know people and people come to know us, there are no walls in between."

The World Sikh Council released a statement Sunday condemning the Wisconsin temple shooting and calling for a "prayerful response."

"This is a troubling day, not only for Sikh-Americans, but also for all Americans," Sikh leaders said in the statement.


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  • Lightfoot3 Aug 7, 2012

    "Tell us how we are suppose to tell the difference!" - Goalieman

    Instead of embracing ignorance, people can learn to tell the difference by observing, reading, and learning. It's the same as with any other subject.

  • jjordan231179 Aug 7, 2012

    and premeditated mass murder is terrorism.
    August 6, 2012 4:39 p.m.
    Report abuse

    Not by legal definition

  • beef Aug 6, 2012

    The ignorance question should be laid where it belongs; at the feet of the NEA and the government school bureaucrats. Kids are not taught who the Sikhs are, but they can put a condom on a banana blindfolded.

  • janakimball Aug 6, 2012

    This isn't ignorance, this is nothing less than terrorism. Whenever anyone or any group commits such a crime, they should be tried as terrorist(s). I don't care if its Sikh's, Muslims, Budhists, Christians, athiests or agnostics....murder is murder, and premeditated mass murder is terrorism.

  • StuckHere Aug 6, 2012

    jcthai: "most Americans are woefully ignorant of the rest of the world."

    Case in point...Romney's world tour. What's even scarier is that he could be elected to run the country...gulp.

  • maewyn2 Aug 6, 2012

    Im confused, I thought the basis for the Pilgrims Sailing to the Americas was to escape Religious persecution, and that that was one of the founding Tenants of our Country and society. As a Christian im deeply saddened by the Attack waged against them.

    Out of curiosity, I looked into their religion a bit this morning. Seems to me this just might be, historicaly, the most peaceful religion I believe I have ever heard of.

    Also this is a quote from Wiki: A Sikh must have the courage to defend the rights of all who are wrongfully oppressed or persecuted irrespective of religion, colour, caste or creed.

    Thats a bold, brave, charge.

    My prayers go out to this community.

  • atheistswillrule Aug 6, 2012

    "Sikh men... frequently ... confused with Muslims..." "How about helping us NOT be confused?! Tell us how we are suppose to tell the difference!" - Goalieman

    Yeah! I think we should put yellow stars on all the jews, pink triangles on all the gays, red cresents on all the muslims..Sound familiar? I'm obviously a non-believer, but I don't condone any sort of violence on any religion. As long as they keep it out out my child's classroom, and the county courthouse etc. Let folks worship whatever go they think might work for them this week.

  • jcthai Aug 6, 2012

    jockeyshiftspringer, most Americans are woefully ignorant of the rest of the world.

  • pappybigtuna1 Aug 6, 2012

    this is tremendous, next thing I will read is you loose canons will be accusing me of the Kennedy Assination

    As for mugging me, you will be reading about another persons death. As for the indian comment, if you are the conquered people you will conform, I did not write the rules. But you are free to worship a falic symbol called a totem pole

    I guess mind blindness must be a blessing, and what you people are saying, you want to take away my "FREEDOM OF SPEECH"; won't happen, not today, not tommorrow, never

  • Conservative Aug 6, 2012

    As stated before, I did not condone these killings, the real question is the "WHY". Did these people represent something negative in this mans life & what was that?


    @pappy - let's say someone mugs you on the street (let's be clear that I am not wishing it, we are being hypothetical here). Should the main question then be "does pappy represent something negative in the mugger's life and what is that?"