With the recent shooting in a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin, hate and violence are on the rise, especially towards minority groups.
While the temple shooting was tragic, with six people dead, most that were a part of the Sikh community understood that this was an act of hate. To them, this place is the gurdwara, or temple, and is seen a place of peace and respect, not just for them but for others as well. From Sikhs.org, Sikhism is a religion which preaches a message of devotion and remembrance of God at all times, truthful living, equality of mankind, social justice and denounces superstitions and blind rituals. By no means is it a violent religion and the doors of the temple were open at all times to those who wished to enter to help create and foster peace. This act of violence shows just how far America has to go when it comes to understanding and accepting minority groups.
Why is more hate towards minority groups surging? Most of these feelings are originated in deep-seated beliefs which are hard to let go. After 9/11 the number of hate crimes against those of South Asian descent, which includes Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and others, intensified. A study done by the New York City Commission on Human Rights in 2003 found that there were 75% of people from a South Asian background who reported that their lives who negatively affected after 9/11. Sikh’s have experienced more than 300 incidents of reported hate crimes since 9/11, which only shows that this latest incident is only part of a string of larger attacks on this community.
The shooting in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, left many wondering why this unspeakable act occurred, though it is not the only hate crime to have occurred. Only days after the shooting in the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, the mosque of the Islamic Society of Joplin, Missouri was, burned to the ground. The fire was ruled as an arson and occurred in the early hours of August 6, a month after another attempted arson at the mosque. Muslims, too, have had their share of hate, most of which people term as Islamophobia. While Sikh’s might be a small group, with 1% of Asian American adults identifying themselves as such, they are growing and at times they are mistakenly identified as Muslims. Muslims make up about 4% of Asian Americans.
Note: In no way are the two events related and the temple shooting should not spur some to believe the act as part of Islamophobia, but merely as another hateful act towards those of a different religion.
Most point towards the notion that there is limited information to those who lash out in these acts of violence. Most of the time it is ignorance of not understanding the difference between two cultures or religions or even understanding something which is so different from what one believes in.
For those that are disgusted and enraged by the hate by others, they can educate others and make an effort themselves to learn more about a specific group or religion different from their own. Today, there are young Asians around the country who are trying to change the way that they are viewed by the larger majority. Whether this is by explaining to someone why a Sikh leads the life they do or why Muslims live the way they or even how Hindus or Buddhists live.
Knowledge is power and in this case, it is a weapon against those who turn the other head and refuse to know the truth about other cultures or religions.