(CHICAGO, IL, 8/6/2012) — The Chicago office of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR-Chicago) said today that their thoughts and prayers are with the Sikh community following a deadly shooting attack targeting members of a Sikh house of worship early Sunday morning in Wisconsin.
“With incidents such as this occurring more frequently in the U.S., now more than ever, Sikhs, Muslims, and all communities across the U.S. must stand up against hatred and violence – no matter who it is inflicted upon,” said Aymen Abdel Halim, Communications Coordinator for CAIR-Chicago.
Ahmed Rehab, Executive Director of CAIR-Chicago, had this to say:
“During my travels, I had the opportunity to lodge for a few days at a Sikh Gurdwara in Kericho, Kenya – a few months before joining CAIR-Chicago. Our hosts would wake up before dawn, engage in beautiful prayer chants, and prepare food for us. They would not eat until they made sure all the guests had eaten. The temple was immaculate, the gardens inspirational, and the hospitality humbling. I subsequently made it a point to visit Gurdwaras in other cities I traveled to including Birmingham, England, just to say hello.”
“If the assailant had given himself the opportunity to know the Gurdwara as I have and to experience the kindness of Sikhs as most of us have, he never would have seen them as the dehumanized caricature he likely saw them as to be able to commit such a horrendous act of murder and destruction.”
CAIR-Chicago is in contact with the Milwaukee Muslim community as it offers support to its Sikh neighbors. Because of this and other violent incidents, CAIR-Chicago is urging mosques and houses of worship of all faiths nationwide to review advice on security procedures contained in its “Muslim Community Safety Kit.”
CAIR has in the past spoken out against bias-motivated attacks on American Sikhs. [NOTE: Sikh men who wear beards and turbans as part of their faith are often targeted by bigots who mistake them for Muslims.]
Last year, CAIR offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual or individuals who gunned down two elderly Sikh men in Elk Grove, Calif.
In 2010, CAIR called for an FBI investigation of an attack on a Sikh cab driver in West Sacramento, Calif. The driver said his passengers made anti-Muslim remarks during the attack. Two men were later arrested on charges of felony assault and commission of a hate crime.
CAIR-Chicago is a chapter of America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.