LONDON, UK—Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), a US based human rights advocacy group, announced a $10,000 gallantry award for the Wisconsin officer, who risked his life to save many lives by first responding to the 911 call for the shoot out at the Wisconsin Sikh Gurdwara.
Praising the brave and timely actions taken by the Police Officer, Gurpatwant Singh Pannun who practices civil rights in the United States and is a legal advisor to advocacy group SFJ, stated that “The attack on Sikhs in the United States is not due to mistaken identity as commonly portrayed, but rather Sikhs are targeted for being Sikhs, a religious minority.”
A deadly shooting in a Gurdwara in Oak Creek in the state of Wisconsin has left six people dead. The gunman identified as a white male was killed by a police officer who responded to the 911 call. Three people including the police officer were critically injured and rushed to hospital. The shooting happened before 11 am (US Central time).
The police recovered two semi-automatic handguns from the scene. CNN reports say that the gunman had a 9/11 tattoo and was dressed in a white T-shirt and black pants.
The motive for the attack is not known but the FBI, which has taken over the investigation, is treating it as an act of domestic terrorism.
While sympathizing and showing solidarity with the families of victims and the community at large, attorney Pannun stated that “It is incumbent upon [the] Obama Administration to take concrete measures to prevent future hate crimes against Sikhs or any other religious minority.”
Attorney Pannun said the “US Claim to be the saviour of religious minorities across the world, but it has miserably failed to protect the religious minorities at home.”
“These attacks have cultivated deep sense of insecurity among the American Sikh community,” added attorney Pannun.
Citing “hundreds of hate crimes perpetrated against Sikhs and other religious minorities since September 11, 2001,” SFJ announced that it would “approach the US Commission on International Religious Freedom to suggest concrete measures to the Obama Administration for protection of religious minorities in the United States, which are integral part of the American society.”
FBI Milwaukee issued a statement, “The FBI is working closely with the Oak Creek Police Department and other local and federal agencies to investigate the shooting incident. This remains an active investigation in its early stages.”
Emphasizing the need for a special program to create awareness about religious minorities, SFJ announced that they will approach Sikh Gurdwaras across North America to create a Trust Fund to prevent future hate crimes against Sikhs and to spread awareness about the principles of the Sikh faith.
United States President Barack Obama has reviewed the security situation with his top national security aides.
Following the briefing, the President called Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi, and trustee of the Gurdwara, Charanjeet Singh to express his condolences for the lives lost and his concern for those who were injured.
Earlier in the day, saddened by the senseless shooting at the Gurdwara in Wisconsin, Obama said Sikhs are a part of the broader American family.
“Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn of the shooting that tragically took so many lives in Wisconsin,” said Obama in a statement.
US President has also directed that the federal government should assist as appropriate in the investigation into the shooting.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, America’s largest Muslim community organisation, condemning “this senseless act of violence”, said that American Muslims “stand with their Sikh brothers and sisters in this time of crisis and loss”.