August 5th, 2012
08:39 PM ET
By the CNN Wire Staff
Oak Creek, Wisconsin (CNN) - The FBI will investigate Sunday's rampage at a Sikh temple in a Milwaukee suburb as a "domestic terrorist-type incident" that left at least six people and the gunman dead, the town's police chief said.
Another three people were wounded, including the first officer to respond to the scene, Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said. A second officer returned fire, killing the suspect, according to the chief.
All three of the wounded were in critical condition at Milwaukee's Froedtert Hospital, spokeswoman Carolyn Bellin told CNN. The congregation's president was among the wounded, his nephew said.
And another man told the CNN affiliate WTMJ, "Nobody's angry here. We're just confused. Was this a random act? Was this directed at us because of the way we look?"
Police did not release information about the gunman, with Edwards saying, "That is being checked into and is part of the criminal investigation." Nor would he disclose specifics of why the attack was being classified as an act of domestic terrorism.
The Sikh religion originated in northern India around 1500 and has about 25 million followers, 700,000 of them in the United States, according to the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund. Because of their customary beards and turbans, Sikh men are often confused for Hindus or Muslims - and have been the targets of hate crimes since the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, said Surinder Singh, a spokesman for the Guru Nanak Mission Society of Atlanta.Complete Coverage
August 5th, 2012
06:20 PM ET
By Steve Almasy, CNN
(CNN)– Sikhism, the world's fifth most popular religion, is a monotheistic faith that believes in equality and service to others, Sikh officials say.
"Everyone is the same," says Raghunandan Johar, president of the Guru Nanak Mission of Atlanta. "There is no distinction, no caste system."
Navdeep Singh, a policy adviser to the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, says Sikhs believe in freedom of religion, community service and inclusiveness.
August 5th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story ran in 2011, around the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
By Jose G. Santos, CNN
Fairfax Station, Virginia (CNN)– Ten years ago, Balbir Singh Sodhi was gunned down, apparently because he looked Muslim or Arab.
He was neither.
Sodhi was a Sikh. Members of the religious tradition say he was the first person to be murdered in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks.
That claim has been backed up by the Justice Department.
"The first person killed in post-9/11 violence, Balbir Singh Sodhi, was a Sikh, shot while pumping gas at his gas station in Arizona four days after 9/11," said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez in congressional testimony earlier this year.
For American Sikhs, Sunday's deadly attack on worshippers at a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee dredged up memories of other recent attacks against their community.
At least seven people, including a gunman shot by a police officer, were killed in Sunday's attack.
In the case of the post 9/11 attack on in Arizona, a 45-year-old aircraft mechanic named Frank Roque gunned down a bearded, turban-wearing Indian immigrant outside a Mesa gas station. Roque drove up to the station, fired a handgun at Balbir Singh Sodhi - who owned the station - five times, then fled.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.