HASC urges Dharmic American houses of worship and community to build self-protection capacity
We at the Hindu American Seva Charities (HASC) are deeply saddened by the attack on the Sikh temple in Milwaukee on August 5, 2012 and the senseless death of six innocent devotees and wounding of the brave responding police officer who answered the call of duty.
We send our condolences to the families impacted, to the Sikh community of Milwaukee and to the Sikh community all over the country as they cope with such loss and tragedy. We express our full support to the Sikh community, and stand shoulder to shoulder with them in this difficult time, to combat these acts of violence.
HASC is concerned about ongoing domestic terrorism and hate crimes, especially as this shooting follows another recent tragedy in Aurora, Colorado. We have seen many Dharmic people, particularly the Sikhs, impacted since 9/11; with Sikhs alone reporting over 700 hate crime incidents. There is no justification for these acts. This is especially so in a place of holy worship and amongst innocent and unarmed civilians.
This tragedy highlights the importance of our community to train itself and build capacity to better protect itself. In the coming days, HASC will work with public officials to assist the Dharmic community and offer all possible assistance to the Sikh community. HASC has been in touch with the Department of Homeland Security and the White House to assist in their outreach efforts to the community and places of worship and is expanding this effort in light of the recent tragedy. In fact on August 15th, New Jersey’s Department of Homeland Security will hold a Surveillance Detection and Suspicious Behavior Training. This course will provide training on the knowledge and skills necessary to detect hostile surveillance conducted against critical infrastructure and identify suspicious behavior.
HASC urges all Dharmic places of worship to hold prayer vigils and offer acts of Seva and solidarity for our Sikh brethren. In times of such tragedy we rise above about what differentiates us and bring to the forefront what unites us. Regardless of our faith, whether we identify as Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Muslim, Christian or Jewish, in moments like this, it is our duty as human beings to come together and stand in unity.
Harsha Nahata, HASC’s Next Generation Seva Leader and a junior at University of Michigan eloquently expresses our sentiments "This past weekend, August 3rd – 4th, at the HASC conference co-hosted with the White House, we learned about the importance of interfaith work, and of increasing awareness especially of the Dharmic (Eastern) religions. We also learned the importance of using these connections to impact the communities around us by making social change. We heard from many inspirational speakers, one of whom was Valerie Kaur from Groundswell. Valerie traveled the country post 9/11 collecting stories from Sikh Americans around the country facing discrimination and hate violence. Her work is all the more necessary after today's events in Wisconsin…….I'm not Sikh. I grew up in a Jain household. But even so, for me the impact is no different than what it would be if it was a Jain temple that was targeted. It isn't a matter of faith, as we talked about at the HASC conference and at the White House Briefing; it is a matter of basic humanity. Of spreading love and compassion, not fear or hate. It's a matter of standing together with a community that has been and continues to be unfairly targeted. It's a matter of standing in unity with people who were innocent victims of circumstance and irrational malice.’
We at HASC express our deep sorrow and condemnation for the tragedy and stand with the Sikh community in this difficult time.