Since the 9/11 attacks, the Sikh Coalition has reported more than 700 attacks or bias-related incidents. In fact, the first murdered person in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks was a Skih. Balbir Singh Sodhi, a gas station owner in Mesa, Arizona, was shot five times by aircraft mechanic Frank Roque on September 15th, 2001; he is currently serving a life sentence. It now appears that Sunday’s shooting at a Skih temple in Wisconsin was motivated by hate as the shooter was known as a white supremacist.
The shooter, now identified as 40 year-old Wade Michael Page, was a known white supremacist who had been kicked out of the Army in 1998. In a press release issued on Monday, the Southern Poverty Law Center said Page was “a frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band.” The center said Page has been on its radar since 2000. It has a database of more than 20,000 people that it has identified as neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other members of hate groups.
According to FBI special agent in charge Teresa Carlson, she spoke in a news conference Monday that the “motive is still being assessed at this time. We are looking at ties to white supremacy groups.” Carlson added that though Page “had contact with law enforcement in the past” and was in FBI files, the FBI had no reason to believe he was planning an attack.
Unfortunately, that was exactly what he did when going to the Skih temple on Sunday and killing six people before police could stop him. Police have said that Page used a 9mm handgun and several magazines, which according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, had purchased the firearm legally. Carlson said that when Page’s apartment was searched, they found weapons and other ammunition.
The Skin religion originated in northern India around 1500 and has about 25 million followers. According to the Skih American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the United States is home to about 700,000 Skihs, nearly all of Indian origin. Men are easily identified by their beards and turbans, a tradition that has lasted for 500 years. Some have confused or mistaken Skihs for Muslims in regards to their appearances and beliefs.
For those who are not aware of the top ten beliefs of Sikhism, they are:
1. Worship One God- acknowledge one creator. Do not worship demi-gods or idols.
2. Treat Everyone Equally- do not show distinction or rank because of race, class, or gender.
3. Live By the Three Primary Principles- Be always absorbed in meditation and prayer, make an honest income by honorable methods and share earnings and selflessly serve others.
4. Avoid the Five Sins of Ego- Practice daily prayer and meditation to reduce the effects of ego and prevent indulgence in: Pride, Lust, Greed, Anger and Attachment.
5. Become Baptized- be spiritually reborn by taking part in the baptism ceremony conducted by the “Five Beloved” Sikhs, who prepare and administer immortalizing nectar to initiates.
6. Keep the Code of Honor- live according to specific individual, and communal, ethical and spiritual commitments. Forsake worldly ties. Abide by the guru’s teachings. Practice daily worship.
7. Wear the Five Articles of Faith- wear the Sikh undergarment for modesty and health, wear a wooden comb in the turban to keep hair clean and untangled, wear a steel wristlet as a sign of faith, wear hair uncut, to honor the creator’s intention and wear a small sword symbolic of defending the religious rights of all faiths.
8. Follow the Four Commandments- do not dishonor the creator’s intention by cutting the hair, do not harm the body with tobacco or other intoxicants, do not eat sacrificial meat and do not commit adultery.
9. Recite the Five Daily Prayers- Repeat the morning prayers, repeat the evening prayer and repeat the bedtime prayer.
10. Take Part in Fellowship- worship together and sing God’s praise, cook and eat together and serve each other.
Heidi Beirich, who leads the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project, says hate group activity has been on the rise since the election of President Obama. Their list of 1,018 hate groups in the USA by the end of 2011 is up considerably from the 2000 number listed of 602. Beirich feels the rise is due to three reasons: the rise in immigration, especially of Latinos, which show that eventually whites will no longer be the majority in the country. Second, the election of the country’s first black president, which she feels is a result of demographic shifts. Finally, during hard economic times, more people tend to join extremist groups.
“People are unemployed, frustrated,” she says. “People need someone to blame.” Let’s just hope that those frustrated find other means to vent besides shooting innocent people.
Gunman named in Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting
Police have identified former veteran Wade Michael Page as the gunman, who killed six worshipers at a Sikh temple in the US state of Wisonsin.