We Are All Sikhs: A Statement on Oak Creek Tragedy and Its Impact
This Friday, August 10th, a memorial service will be held for the six individuals who lost their lives in the tragic shooting at the Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. The 178 undersigned community of civic, faith-based, immigrant rights, and civil rights organizations expresses our deepest condolences to the victims and their families affected by the mass shooting which left six individuals dead, at least three others critically injured, and many others wounded. We are grateful for the efforts by many Gurdwara congregants, first responders, and the local community in Wisconsin who helped to save lives and prevented an even greater loss of life from occurring.
We call upon Americans to respond to this tragedy by supporting the families of the victims and Sikh community members. Over the course of this week, vigils are being planned around the country with the message of “We are all Sikhs.” We urge you to stand in support of the Sikh community and the values that bind us as Americans by attending a vigil in your area (a map of vigils can be found here).
While facts are still emerging regarding the motivation of the perpetrator, the massacre at the Gurdwara in Oak Creek is part of a history of bias and violence that members of Sikh, Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities have endured in the decade following September 11, 2001. Sadly, community members continue to report discrimination, and places of worship are routinely targeted. Within 24 hours of the Wisconsin shooting, a suspicious fire, now being investigated as a possible arson, destroyed a mosque in Joplin, Missouri. The level of hate and violence inflicted on innocent Americans because of their appearance or religious faith is now at a crisis point.
While our organizations represent a wide swath of individuals from different nationalities, backgrounds, faith traditions, and belief systems, we are bound together by a common purpose: we believe in the core American values of religious pluralism, equality, and inclusion. Our collective voices send out the message that as a nation, we must denounce the hate-fueled sentiment and bigoted rhetoric that has become much too frequent in our public and political discourse. The essence of our country after all is E pluribus unum: out of many comes a strong, unified one.
We call upon our elected leaders, and civic, faith-based, and educational institutions to take steps to address xenophobia, racism, and anti-religious hate in our country today. We ask President Obama to host a summit that brings stakeholders together to identify concrete solutions. And we urge all individuals, regardless of faith or background, to speak out against bigotry at workplaces, schools, and family kitchen tables. As Americans, we must stand together to protect our nation’s values of equality and freedom for all.