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My Take: Sikh temple shooting is act of terrorism
August 6th, 2012
11:20 AM ET

My Take: Sikh temple shooting is act of terrorism

Editor's note: Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, founder of TheMuslimGuy.com and author of the book "Islamic Pacifism: Global Muslims in the Post-Osama Era."

By Arsalan Iftikhar, Special to CNN

(CNN)–Imagine that you woke up on a beautiful Sunday morning to hear the news of a brown, bearded, gun-wielding madman who stormed into a Wisconsin church full of blond-haired parishioners and killed six innocent people.

If that scenario did occur, would most Americans have any problem calling that an act of "terrorism"?

Of course not.

Now imagine that the shooter was a white man and the innocent victims were bearded brown men and head-covered women. Suddenly, the discussion of "terrorism" gets a lot more complicated.

Of course, this is exactly what happened in a Milwaukee suburb on Sunday, when six people and the alleged gunman were killed at a Sikh temple.

One of the congregation's members told a local news station, "Nobody's angry here. We're just confused. Was this a random act? Was this directed at us because of the way we look?"

Sadly, it's probably going to be the latter.

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Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Police Chief John Edwards said at a news conference that the case is being treated as domestic terrorism, and the FBI is taking over.

But it's important for our greater American society to also condemn acts of terrorism when the perpetrator happens to be a white guy.

If not, we send millions of people of color around America the message that the term "terrorism" has been co-opted, that it shall apply only when brown bearded men are the shooters and not when they are the tragic victims.

Unless we acknowledge this attack on the Sikh temple as an act of terrorism, we will essentially be relegating brown-skinned Americans to second-class citizenry by perpetuating the myth that "terrorism" is only a Muslim, Arab or South Asian phenomenon and beyond the pale for any white person to commit.

To give another recent example, imagine that a brown Arab Muslim male tried to assassinate a member of Congress by shooting her in the head, killing six innocent people and wounding 13 others outside a grocery store during this assassination attempt.

Would we have any trouble calling this scenario above an act of terrorism? Nope.

Since authorities say the gunman was a white dude named Jared Lee Loughner, he was just a kooky loner whose mental health must have been the triggering factor. But if his name were Ali Akbar Nahasapeemapetilon, nobody in America would care a bit about his mental health issues.

Since observant Sikh men keep a turban (known as dastaar or pagri) and unshorn hair, which often manifests itself into a long beard, many Americans after September 11 wrongfully conflated Sikh Americans with Muslim Americans because of this "turban-and-beard" look. To highlight the sheer tragic irony and stupid human ignorance of bias-motivated hate crimes within America, the first actual tragic victim of a post-9/11 "hate crime" murder in the United States was neither a Muslim nor an Arab.

Four days after 9/11, Balbir Singh Sodhi, a 49-year-old Indian Sikh-American businessman, was brutally shot several times and killed instantly by Frank Roque in a Mesa, Arizona, gas station. According to BBC World News, the county attorney stated that Sodhi was killed for no other apparent reason than that he was dark-skinned and wore a turban.

Just like America has been on high alert for brown-skinned terrorism since September 11, millions of Americans of Arab, Muslim, Sikh and South Asian descent have equally been on high alert about reprisal attacks against brown-skinned Americans that happened immediately after September 11.

On the same day as the Sodhi murder, September 15, 2001, Adel Karas, a 48-year-old Egyptian Orthodox Coptic Christian and father of three, was viciously murdered outside his suburban Los Angeles import shop. In Texas, both the FBI and local police investigated the murder of Waqar Hasan, a Pakistani store owner who was found shot to death outside his grocery store in suburban Dallas.

One day after 9/11, in the early morning hours of September 12, at least six bullets shattered several windows of the Islamic Center of Irving in suburban Dallas. Similarly, on September 12, 2001, 29-year-old Eric Richley of Middleburg Heights, Ohio, decided to drive his white Ford Mustang into the front glass doors of the Grand Mosque at the Islamic Center of Greater Cleveland. Places of worship including Muslim mosques, Hindu temples and Sikh gurdwaras became instant targets for patriotic terrorists seeking to lash out at innocent Americans like the Sikh victims of the terrorist attack in Wisconsin.

Belonging to a five-century-old monotheistic tradition, professor Stephen Prothero writes,

Sikhism emerged out of a culture steeped in both Hinduism and Islam, and early Sikhs attempted to reconcile the two, in part by focusing on heartfelt devotion to God rather than rites and doctrines. "There is no Hindu and no Muslim, so whose path shall I follow?" asked (Sikh founder) Guru Nanak. "I shall follow the path of God." Like Muslims, Sikhs are strict monotheists who emphasize divine sovereignty. They reject the view that God incarnates in human form, believing instead in a formless God that can be known through singing and meditation.

According to professor Gurinder Singh Mann, the "Sikhs lay emphasis on a life of hard work, social commitment, and ethical living. A complex set of doctrinal, historical and sociological reasons made them a very political people and they have kept up that heritage in both the Punjab, the land of their origin, and wherever they have migrated to in the past century."

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Most Americans do not know that the first Sikh American member of Congress was Dalip Singh Saund, who represented California's 29th congressional district in 1957. Since Sikhs have served America as doctors, lawyers and teachers for more than a century, any attack on their house of worship should be considered an attack on all houses of worship.

So, if the mass murder at the Sikh temple is not referred to as an act of "terrorism" by virtually every member of our American media and sociopolitical elite, the only message that this will send to millions of people of color across America is that the term "terrorism" has been co-opted and shall apply only when brown bearded men are the shooters, not when they are the tragic victims.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Arsalan Iftikhar.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Crime • Sikh

soundoff (849 Responses)
  1. Johny Utah

    Perhaps someone can enlighten me as what the Sikhs have done/contributed to the society in general?..do you think they should do more if any?

    August 6, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Angel

      About as much as you have done.

      August 6, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • More then You for sure!!

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_history_of_Sikh_Americans

      August 6, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  2. Margaret

    Is this a terrorist act? Since the Sikh community is now fearful, I would say it certainly had the effect of creating terror. I am sure the Aryan Brotherhood is very proud of their "hero", going into a place of worship and gunning down unarmed, people peaceably at prayer. Yes it take a strong man to attack rooms of people doing normal peaceful activities. Just like the armor, wearing heavily armed gunman who fired on a theater full of innocent people, just like McVey who proudly blew up a building with a day care and social security recipients. Just like the "heroes" of al quida who flew into buildings.

    August 6, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Angel

      What do you expect when you send hundreds of thousands of people to fight un-needed wars and have them come back and try to live a normal life. America is reaping what is sows.

      August 6, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  3. Mitt

    The price of Indian food is going to sky rocket.

    August 6, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • Johny Utah

      Do you think the Patel Family most of them are owners of motels/hotels are also sikhs?...oh yes, the price of Indian Food will go up too...

      August 6, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  4. HearTheTruth

    http://www.Hear-The-Truth.com

    August 6, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Mitt

      What if you're deaf?

      August 6, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Timothy Biddiscombe

      http://www.hear-the-lies.com

      August 6, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  5. T. G. Lewis

    I disagree with Mr. Clifford. A single man can create terrorism and he does not need a political or religious agenda, simply an agenda to create fear in a person or a group. Remember Norway a year ago? That was white on white not a person of color on white or white on persons of color. The basic intent seemed to be simply to kill as many of a group as possible based on their religious beliefs or culture. I've had the honor of Sikh friends and am horrified that a man could enter their house of worship and kill innocent, peaceful people while celebrating their belief in a supreme being. Mr. Ali Iagree with your comment also. I've studied Islam a little and understand that Mohammed did spread the word of Allah as one of tolerance, charity, and peace and that Islam recognizes that Christians and Jew do share some of the same values. It is the interpretation of religion that leads to the violence we see, not the tenents of the religion.

    August 6, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Chris Rowland

      Terrorists, at least as I picture them, are members of a clearly defined cause and enjoy the direct support of an organization. A real terrorist is a member of a group... other people knew his plans before he enacted them and helped him with them. He hopes to further a political cause by his actions. If he dies in his activity, there are other people who are directly responsible for what he did.
      Everybody who does something bad, or evil, even if it is really evil, is not a terrorist by this classical definition. The guy in Norway, the guy here in Colorado: these were awful people to be sure, but I think we should reserve "terrorist" for people who belong to an organization, and use terror to advance a particular agenda.
      The litmus test for a "terrorist"? Did at least one other person know what and when and why he was going to do something and support him in it.

      August 6, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
  6. Reality

    My Take: Being a Muslim is an act of terrorism:

    To wit:

    What instigated the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon?

    And what drives today's 24/7 mosque/imam-planned acts of terror and horror?

    The koran, Mohammed's book of death for all infidels and Muslim domination of the world by any means.

    Muslims must clean up this book removing said passages admitting that they are based on the Gabriel myth and therefore obviously the hallucinations and/or lies of Mohammed.

    Then we can talk about the safety and location of mosques and what is taught therein.

    Until then, no Muslim can be trusted anytime or anywhere..................................

    How does this relate to the shooting at the Sikh temple? The global 24/7 acts of koranic-driven terror have sensitized many to the point that they are blinded by anything that remotely reminds them of Islam. There are easy solutions to this and analogous religious-based hatred and intolerance. These easy, peaceful solutions are available upon written request.

    August 6, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • tribecagal

      To Wit
      You are a raving lunatic!

      August 6, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Reality Check

      I am not a Muslim, but I ask you to go back and learn history please!!!! Guess you have forgotten the very history of this country...Indian Americans were killed BY NONE OTHER BUT BY THE PEOPLE WHO SAY THEY STAND BY THE BIBLE!! This is how IGNORANT we many Americans are...England the country found on bible...killed people all across the world to rule their country....slavery again promoted by people who READ THE BIBLE!!! Were those acts not an act of terrorism....so please be clear in your head!! No God or Religion promotes Terrorism but its sick minded ppl who do!! People who dont understand the word of god!! Any God!!

      August 6, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • Sam

      Get your facts straight my friend

      August 6, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Manny

      Troll. I hope this guy doesn't own firearms.

      August 6, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • Bill

      It's past time for your nap, now go along and be a good boy.

      August 6, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Reality

      READ AND LEARN:

      From the studies of Armstrong, Rushdie, Hirsi Ali, Richardson and Bayhaqi----–

      The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:

      ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

      Are you ready?

      Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

      The First Five of the 77 Branches:

      "1. Belief in Allah"

      aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your self-cleansing neurons.

      "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

      Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

      "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

      A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

      "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

      Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

      Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

      Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

      "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings
      be upon him) alone."

      Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

      Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

      Unfortunately, there are not many Muslim commentators/readers on this blog so the "two-minute" cure is not getting to those who need it. If you have a Muslim friend, send him a copy and help save the world.

      Analogous steps are available at your request for deprogramming the myths of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Paganism..

      August 6, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Reality

      READ AND LEARN:

      Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con/

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke records it. (Luke mentions it in his gospel and Acts, i.e. a single attestation and therefore historically untenable). The Ascension ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers.

      The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
      http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

      p.4

      "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      p.168. by Ted Peters:

      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      August 6, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • Reality

      READ AND LEARN:

      AND THE INFAMOUS ANGELIC CONS CONTINUE TO WREAK STUPIDITY UPON THE WORLD

      Joe Smith had his Moroni. (As does M. Romney)

      "Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

      Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

      Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

      Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As does BO and his family)

      The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

      Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.
      Some added references to "tink-erbells".

      newadvent.org/cathen/07049c.htm

      "The belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity; pagans, like Menander and Plutarch (cf. Euseb., "Praep. Evang.", xii), and Neo-Platonists, like Plotinus, held it. It was also the belief of the Babylonians and As-syrians, as their monuments testify, for a figure of a guardian angel now in the British Museum once decorated an As-syrian palace, and might well serve for a modern representation; while Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, says: "He (Marduk) sent a tutelary deity (cherub) of grace to go at my side; in everything that I did, he made my work to succeed."
      Catholic monks and Dark Age theologians also did their share of hallu-cinating:

      "TUBUAS-A member of the group of angels who were removed from the ranks of officially recognized celestial hierarchy in 745 by a council in Rome under Pope Zachary. He was joined by Uriel, Adimus, Sabaoth, Simiel, and Raguel."

      And tin-ker- bells go way, way back:

      "In Zoroastrianism there are different angel like creatures. For example each person has a guardian angel called Fravashi. They patronize human being and other creatures and also manifest god’s energy. Also, the Amesha Spentas have often been regarded as angels, but they don't convey messages, but are rather emanations of Ahura Mazda ("Wise Lord", God); they appear in an abstract fashion in the religious thought of Zarathustra and then later (during the Achaemenid period of Zoroastrianism) became personalized, associated with an aspect of the divine creation (fire, plants, water...)."

      "The beginnings of the biblical belief in angels must be sought in very early folklore. The gods of the Hitti-tes and Canaanites had their supernatural messengers, and parallels to the Old Testament stories of angels are found in Near Eastern literature. "

      "The 'Magic Papyri' contain many spells to secure just such help and protection of angels. From magic traditions arose the concept of the guardian angel. "

      For added information see the review at:

      en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angel

      August 6, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Maybe they could do that after the Christians show good will by removing all the acts of genocide and terror in the Old Testament.

      August 6, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Non-Racist

      To put it mildly , you are one sick, racist, ignorant individual. Bet you are also a full fledged christian, GOP/Teabagger and very proud of being such.

      August 6, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Reality

      Obviously, "Non-Racist" did not READ CAREFULLY:

      ONE MORE TIME:

      So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      AND TO MAKE IT EVEN CLEARER, AN EVENING PRAYER:

      The Apostles' Creed 2012 (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
      Jerusalem.

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
      ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      Amen
      (References used are available upon request.)

      Regarding the NT vs. the OT atrocities:

      The New Testament has only one major atrocity, that of god committing filicide assuming you believe in this Christian mumbo jumbo. Said atrocity should be enough to vitiate all of Christianity.

      August 7, 2012 at 12:29 am |
  7. SGT. Stomp

    Sikh and destroy.

    August 6, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Csense01

      Crawled out from under the stone have we? Well done, you have demonstrated that you can tap a couple of keys on a computer. Can you do any other tricks? How about juggling balls? Oh! I see that you have only one. That explains a lot.

      August 6, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  8. SGT. Stomp

    Go Army!!!!!!!

    August 6, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  9. Katie

    Of COURSE it's terrorism. How else can you describe a scenario where someone with a loaded weapon opens fire on a crowd of peaceful people going about their own business?? Are people not afraid now? YES it's terrorism!! And because the guy was a US citizen, it's DOMESTIC TERRORISM!

    August 6, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  10. Why me?

    "End Apathy" was a great punk band.

    August 6, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  11. Taylor

    So, when are going to declere the KKK a terrorist Group????

    August 6, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Taylor

      So, when are we going to declare the KKK as a terrorist group?????

      August 6, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  12. Peace not hate

    "Sikhs believe in the equality of humankind, the concept of universal brotherhood of man and One Supreme God (Ik Onkar)"

    The killer went to kill the "Muslims" and yet again did not have the education to learn or know the difference between the beliefs or what they represented.
    So once again ignorance destroys. Jesus did not not teach self rightous, ignorant, murder.

    August 6, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  13. David Sacco

    If, in fact, this individual is part of a larger group and conspiracy then I would agree that this is a form of terrorism just like the Oklahoma City bombing. On the other hand if this is the action of one deranged individual without the support of a larger group then it is more like Lee Harvey Oswald or Loughner or the Aurora lunatic.

    August 6, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Katie

      It doesn't matter if he's a disgruntled employee, a person seeking revenge against bullies, a white supremacist, or a nut job with a gun – when you stride into a place where people are going about their normal activities and you open fire on them – you are terrorizing them. OF COURSE this was an act of terrorism. And the fact that the guy was a US citizen makes it DOMESTIC TERRORISM.

      August 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  14. Please Grow Up

    Let's call this clod's action what it is COWARDISM.

    August 6, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Exactly and after he went up and shot the officer who was trying to help one the victims, he really proved his cowardice.

      August 6, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Margaret

      Maybe that is what we need to rename terrorism, cowardism.

      August 6, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  15. George Clifford

    The shooting at the Sikh temple, a sinful tragedy, was, by definition not an act of terror. Using terrorism as a term to sweep up all heinous crimes conflates multiple problems in a way that makes solutions more difficult. Terrorism, rightly understood, is an act of violence against innocent civilians to achieve political gains. In the absence of any group claiming that they intended the attack on the temple to achieve political gains, the attack fails to satisfy the definition of terrorism. That said, as the author notes, Sikhs have made significant contributions to the U.S. and are worthy of the same respect, rights, and protections as any other citizen. Furthermore, communities that suffer unwarranted violence (e.g., the Sikhs in Wisconsin and Colorado cinema attendees) can choose to respond with courage rather than fear. People can develop the ability to channel and to control their emotions; wallowing in fear following a horrendous and unexpected attack both satisfies the warped cravings of the attack’s perpetrator(s) and makes copycats more likely (cf. http://blog.ethicalmusings.com/2010/01/courage-in-face-of-terrorism.html).

    August 6, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • tallulah13

      If indeed the shooter was influenced by the white supremest movement, this was a terrorist act. This was not a random target. If we can call the actions of 9/11 an act of terrorism, surely this action deserves the same condemnation.

      However, until all the facts are known, I am content to simply call this an atrocity committed by an evil man.

      August 6, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • Katie

      Yes, this incident can be defined as terrorism. By your definition, flying a plane into a building is not an act of terror, because there was no way those people could make political gains. There is nothing political about terrorism – there is just chaos and fear and killing.

      August 6, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Terrorism does not require a group; it only requires a political motive. The killer in Norway was acting politically.

      August 6, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  16. opoT

    Meh, only bearded towelheads commit terrorism.

    Get over it.

    August 6, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • EJ in Metro Houston

      are you serious or are you actually THIS STUPID??

      August 6, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Nicks

      Look at your lack of igonrance just like the person who shot those people!! Not all people who wear turbans are muslims!! The people who were shot were from Sikh religion!! and the person who shot them was a white male without turban!! The person who shot people in aurora 2 weeks back also was a man without a turban!! Dude there is a world beyond America!! and there are religions beyond Christians and Muslims!! Just coz because a person whose religion is not Christian or catholic does not mean he/she is terrorist. Go back and learn history and geography...people responsible for slavery were Christians and Catholics, but still I do not hold any religion responsible!! Uneducated Idiot!!!

      August 6, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • Me

      Umm...didn't we just say not all men with beards and turbans are Muslim? Yes, he really is that stupid.

      August 6, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Seriously brain damaged comment.

      August 6, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  17. suellen crowley

    Perhaps before CNN starts taking pot shots at the Catholic Church (this morning's exchange about Catholics buying Indulgences), they should do their homework. This is exactly the kind of insidious prejudiced comment that keeps us all wary and separate instead of one human family. My prayers go out to the Sikh community and their great loss.

    August 6, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      The Catholic Church gets what it deserves!!! Sadly you seem to support this group of pedophiles. This church you support so much protects pedophiles from the law...men who sexually abuse young innocent children and you somehow support this group???? Please don't breed or if you do have children, they need removed from your care-you are as culpable as the pedophiles-you might as well hand your children...you're risking it anyways.

      August 6, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  18. Ibrahim Muhammad Ali

    Finally, some news that isn't biased against people of other colors or of other Religions. As a Muslim, I am expected to respect others freedom of religion yet I encounter Domestic Terrorist Activites every single day. Not so much in acts of violence, but to be terrorized is MORE than just being physcially assaulted.

    Sometimes, the looks and comments are enough to make you crazy. I appreciate this piece and it's honesty.

    Great job!!

    August 6, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • opoT

      Why is this name so common? How do you tell one another apart when y'all have the same name?

      August 6, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Ibrahim: I have friends who are Muslim and while they honor their belief, they are very modern day...they were offended by the acts of 9-11....good decent people at heart. Not everyone judges you on your belief system...we're not all ignorant.

      August 6, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • Me

      opoT: all Muslims have the name Ibrahim??? I'm Muslim, I only know two Ibrahims.

      August 6, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  19. Kamjot Singh

    Wahe Guruji Ka Khalsa, Wahe Guruji Ki Fateh.
    I am praying for my fallen brothers and sisters.

    August 6, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  20. P.H. Cassidy

    Why did the police take so long to enter the Temple and determine it was safe? It looks like people may have bled to death because the police failed to put on body armor and go in.

    August 6, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • .

      You atheists are always stirring the pot, as you are the modern day Pharisees following the lies of the IJs.

      August 6, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • M.A. Rogers

      Modern day Pharisees? That's exactly what these atheists are.

      John 1:10-11

      10  He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

      11  He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

      August 6, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Oh wow, Where exactly do you get that PH is an Atheist? PH asked an honest question...not based on belief or disbelief and you ignorantly passed judgement. As for the quoting of scripture....kudos, we know what it says and once again we don't give a rats ass...it means nothing to us because it can't be proven with any form of EVIDENCE to be true. This is your fairy tale, not ours...you get to ignore the evidence based in the last decade because it is too scary for you, we get to ignore the buybull because that has no evidence to back it and it is quite simply bat shit crazy.

      August 6, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • OutPastPluto

      Atheists? Pharisees?

      [shakes head]

      You need to re-read your bible. Pharisee's are people like Sarah Palin and Rick Santorum.

      August 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Vad

      @P.H. You sir are a coward sitting with comfort behind your desk criticizing people of action who are unafraid to do what you have nightmares about. The Police, despite being under fire ended the threat. They acted with speed and courage which is something you lack. As far as the author goes, I believe the Police and Media and society labeled this a Terrorist Act from the beginning so I don't know what he is complaining about. Rest in Peace all victims. Get well soon to the injured, including the wounded cop.

      August 6, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • tallulah13

      The police did what they could. The officer who was shot was rendering aid to a victim at the time. Perhaps you should save your finger pointing for the man who was responsible for this atrocity.

      August 6, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      tall: as always, good point 🙂

      August 6, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • a slozomby

      warren vs dc, the police have no obligation to protect anyone.

      August 6, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • communicator1453

      I don't agree with P.H. Cassidy's characterization of the police response, but I don't think he or she is a coward. What's more I don't think he or she mentioned whether he or she was an atheist. Finally, the term pharisee applied to people who believed in God, but were rigidly legalistic about following the Law of Moses to the point where they transformed it into a task master. Therefore, I fail to see how an atheist could be compared to a Pharisee in any way, shape or form. Anyone who would make such a statement has completely misunderstood the Bible, and needs to start over from square one.

      August 6, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.