Washington [US], August 9 (ANI): U.S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom Rashad Hussain traveled to Oak Creek, Wisconsin August 5-6 to participate in the 10th Annual Oak Creek Sikh Memorial Anniversary Candlelight Remembrance Vigil.
The event convened federal and state government representatives, civil society, and religious leaders to honor the victims of the 2012 attack and to stand in solidarity with the Sikh community.
Ambassador Hussain met with community leaders and local government officials to discuss our continuing efforts to work together to combat hate and protect religious freedom and places of worship everywhere.
Sikh and Gurdwara communities in America have urged the US Congress to heed the call by the Sikh Coalition and Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) to pass the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act, on the tenth anniversary of the attack on a Sikh gurudwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
“On this day we also join the call to US Congress by Sikh Coalition and SALDEF to pass the Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act,” Sikh Coordination Committee East Coast (SCCEC) and American Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (AGPC) said in a statement on August 5.
Remembering the “senseless shooting”, members of the SCCEC and AGPC prayed for the victims and their families.
“Today is the 10th anniversary of the August 5, 2012 mass shooting at the Sikh Gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin by a white supremacist. It was the deadliest act of anti-Sikh hate in US history that took the lives of seven Sikh worshippers while they were praying,” according to a statement by the SCCEC and the AGPC.
“Sikh Coordination Committee East Coast (SCCEC) and American Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (AGPC) memorializes this senseless shooting and prays for the departed souls and their families,” it added.
On August 5, 2012, a 40-year-old army veteran Wade Michael Page shot several people, killing six and injured four people at a gurdwara in Oak Creek in Wisconsin, One more person in a mass shooting at a gurdwara in Oak Creek in Wisconsin died in the year 2020.
Meanwhile, the SCCEC and AGPC also remembered the church mass shooting in Charleston where nine Black worshipers were shot and killed in 2015 and the shooting incident at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh where 11 worshipers were slain in 2018.
“Both SCCEC and AGPC stand in full solidarity with other faith communities that have fallen victim to mass gun violence and white supremacy. We realize that there is much strength we can draw from each other to help in process of healing and moving forward,” the statement read.
US President Joe Biden called for strict measures to reduce gun violence and defeat domestic terrorism and hate in all its forms.
Mourning the loss of lives in the 2012 gurudwara attack, Biden said, “The Oak Creek shooting was the deadliest attack on Sikh Americans in our nation’s history. Tragically, attacks on our nation’s houses of worship have only become more common over the past decade. It is up to all of us to deny this hate-safe harbour.”
According to an official statement, Biden said that when generations of Sikh-Americans in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, constructed their own place of worship after years of renting local halls, it was a sacred place of their own and a connection shared with the broader community.
Every year, the congregation now hosts an annual memorial run to honour the victims. The event bears the words Charhdi Kala, meaning “eternal optimism.”
The US President said that to stand in defence of religious freedom, all must stand together to ban the weapons that terrorize congregations around our country. (ANI)