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Sikhs host vigil for Wisconsin temple victims across from White House
Some Sikhs at the Washington vigil wore orange turbans to show solidarity.
August 9th, 2012
11:28 AM ET

Sikhs host vigil for Wisconsin temple victims across from White House

By Anna-Lysa Gayle, CNN

Washington (CNN) –
A couple hundred people from various religious backgrounds gathered across from the White House on Wednesday night for a vigil honoring the victims of Sunday's attack on a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee.

The event's organizers wore T-shirts that said “United against Hate” and distributed orange ribbons, one of the colors on the Sikh flag. Some Sikhs wore orange turbans as a symbol of pride.

Turban debate: to wear or not to wear?

“I wanted to have a vigil where it was everybody together in the nation’s capital, in front of the White House," said Sabrina Mangat, a Howard University senior who helped organize the vigil.

"This represents America, when you see overseas - when you have something of the White House - they automatically know that’s American,” Mangat said.

Mangat learned of the Wisconsin shooting while sitting in her local Sikh temple.

“The thing is I do stick out. I am a minority," she said. "At the end of the day, I’m still American. I still hold an American passport.”

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Similar vigils are happening across the country this week.

The Washington vigil included members of the Muslim community, many of whom say they feel a special bond with Sikhs. Sikhs are sometimes mistaken for Muslims.

A Muslim house of worship in Joplin, Missouri, burned down this week, though the cause of the fire is still unknown.

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“I’m here in solidarity with my Sikhs brothers and sisters, who suffered from an incredible tragedy, and I want to let them know that we’re here to support them as a Muslim," said Sameerah Siddiqui, a Muslim attendee at the vigil.

The event featured speakers, with volunteers standing in back of them holding up an image of Wade Michael Page, who authorities said killed himself after the attack, and other victims.

“We have Sikh speakers and we also have non-Sikh speakers, just to show that it’s a universal message. It’s not limited to just our community," said Gursean Singh, a recent graduate of the University of Maryland who helped organize the vigil.

Attendees signed a banner that will be sent to the families of the Wisconsin temple victims.

Volunteers distributed vegetarian food like wraps and sweets, explaining that Sikhs see food as a symbol of equality.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Sikh • Violence

soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. iluv_USA

    Message to Sikh Leadership: I am a US-based Sikh. Our Sikh leadership has failed us at all levels. It is a matter of utmost shame that it has been 100 years since we first came to the US & still we have not been able to get the most basic FACT across the Americans that – We are NOT Muslims. We were born out of Hinduism as a part of anti-fanatic-Muslim movement in India 5 centuries ago. This is a FACT & by revealing a FACT you are NOT giving a message that it is OK to kill Muslims. Killing any human is wrong – whether Muslim or Sikh or any other.

    Sikh leadership should have propagated the message that Sikhs & Muslims are poles apart. Our Sikh Gurus as well as the Sikh masses have suffered tremendously at the hands of fanatic Muslims. The underlying reason of the formation of Sikhs was to oppose the fanatic Muslims & to Stop the Conversion of Hindus into Muslims. Sikh leadership should have divulged by now (100 years for God sake) that if there were no Sikhs, Rajputs or Marathas in India, then the entire sub-continent of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri-Lanka and Nepal – these nearly 1.6 BILLION people would have been Muslims today. It is sad that our Sikh leadership believes in cementing gold to Sikh temples & has never risen to the occasion.

    August 23, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
  2. iluv_USA

    Message to Sikhs. USA is a great country & we Sikhs love this country. Sikhs need to play their role in removing Ignorance prevailing amongst racist or militant groups by reaching out to militant groups, connecting with them & informing them – that i) We are NOT Muslims. We were born out of Hinduism as a part of anti-fanatic-Muslim movement in India 5 centuries ago. This is a FACT & by revealing a FACT you are NOT giving a message that it is OK to kill Muslims ii) Killing any human is wrong – whether Muslim or Sikh or any other.

    Daily prayer of Sikhs calls for “good, well-being, benefit, welfare, benevolence for EVERYONE i.e. all humans, animals, birds, nature etc. We believe in community service. Many Sikhs wear turban & have beard. Sikh turban is NOT Taliban or Muslim turban. Sikhs served in World Wars I & II. Just like American people, Sikhs have suffered at the hands of fanatic Muslims; from 15th century till now. Hindus suffered at the hands of fanatic Muslims since the last 11 centuries. It is real tragic that we Sikhs are misunderstood & mistaken as Muslims. Sikhs have no enmity with mainstream peaceful Muslims or any other religion.

    August 23, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
  3. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    August 9, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • kindless

      Actually, atheism is wonderful for children and all people!

      Atheists have strong minds and good at helping weak-minded people work through their struggles with other people or the imaginary forces or obstacles that men have made up. Atheists encourage people to take responsibility for their actions within society instead of having their misdeeds excused and often hidden within their religion (comforting their weak minds, but simultaneously disserving society).

      Break the matrix of deception by all religions.

      If the thought leaving your imaginary friends behind is just too much, or makes you want to go p00py, then try Atheism Lite™ (agnosticism) for a period of time to ease your way into a much more rewarding, peaceful life.

      It is written.

      heavenSnot

      August 10, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • atheism is

      sh it on a stick, only the deranged pick it up, only the adherents eat it

      August 10, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs! ,

      August 10, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • kindless

      atheism is wrote: "sh it on a stick, "

      Is Christianity causing people to sh it on sticks? Could they be praying too hard?

      August 10, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • atheism is

      a misinterpretation of what life is about. And as kindless has shown unable to tell the difference between sh it and shine-ola

      August 10, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • kindless

      atheism is wrote: "a misinterpretation of what life is about. And as kindless has shown unable to tell the difference between sh it and shine-ola"

      actually from your original phrase: "sh it on a stick, only the deranged pick it up, only the adherents eat it"

      what is obvious to me is that the "stick" is Jesus, the "sh it" is all of the other characters from the NT besides Jesus, and Christians are the ones that picked it up and accepted all of it without enough observation.

      August 10, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
  4. hinduism, denial of truth

    hinduism, absurdity of a hindu, lair, Sikhism is founded by none other than Persians, hindu, denier of truth absolute, Nanik, not his real name but a Persian hindu, pagan like Mirza of gurdaspur. 1857 Brithish were defeated by Muslim and hindu forces and they retreated to Lahnow for help from Shiite Muslims and hindu, criminal Sikh's of Punjab, They were reinforced by hindu criminal forces of Sikh and Shiite forces and attacked Shah Jahan Abad, New dehli, Muslim and hindu forces were defeated because of hinduism, treason of these hindu criminal , pagan 's and so called Muslim shiits. They benefited and participated in hinduism, terrorism of hindu criminal British and made regardless of belief their slave. Their claim of being peaceful are nothing but hinduism, absurdity, they robed Kashmir of their wealth and slaughtered 2 third of population or forced them to abandon Kashmir, hinduism, criminality named as Sikh ism was founded on hinduism, terrorism and it is nothing but fraud of Parsiees of Persia along with hindu Mithra sim, savior ism of hindu pagan Persia. Noting but cross between hinduism, paganism and Islam, or with its own nature,like hyaenas, cross between wolf and a dog with the nature of hinduism, deception, with face of a goat but nature of a Jackal.
    Word hindu drives from Latin word hindrance, negativity, Hun, great, Han, to be in greatness, hin, to be negative to both of them, hindu, a noun in negativity, hinduism, way of negativity. So is word Singh, they hind, absurd as a lion, but literal translation to be a self centered, as is word pig, same as in their hindu, ignorant claim Panja sahib, meaning all powerful itself of Persian origin.

    August 9, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • William Demuth

      I am not sure, but it appears you are off your meds again.

      Or you might just be crazy as a loon!

      August 9, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Huebert

      Please slow down when you type. That essay doesn't make a bit of sense.

      August 9, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
  5. William Demuth

    I am concerned about something.

    While I agree that far to many are victimized for being different, I am also concerned that far to many immigrants are failing to assimilate.

    I am also concerned that gated communities, private schools and a re-emergence of segregation in our schools is only going to exacerbate the problems related to this failure.

    So I have a question:

    Can and should multi-culturalisim be discouraged? Do we need common points of cultural references for our society to endure?

    While religion is protected, do we have the right to expect a universal use of English as our language?

    Can we culturally reject forms of extreme dress like burka's, Hassidic ensemble's or turbans without impinging on religious freedoms?

    It seems to me, without the heat of a booming economy, that we run the risk of the melting pot theory running out of fuel, and I am frequently worried we may become balkanized.

    August 9, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • hinduism, denial of truth

      Do you mean, every one has to be regimented, many kind of flowers make a beautiful garden, not just one kind of plant.

      August 9, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Portland tony

      It really takes a few generations to start the assimilation process. Look how long it took the Irish and Italians to move out to the burbs after living for generations in lil Irelands and Italys......and we still have Korea towns and Chinatowns in all the major cities!

      August 9, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • J.W

      How about everyone just accept each other's differences? I think that would solve all of the problems.

      August 9, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • sam

      But J.W, this is humanity we're talking about!

      August 9, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • William Demuth

      J.W

      That’s naiveté and you know it!

      We have a moral obligation to keep ALL cultures in check. Societies MUST share an ethical framework to see our nation prosper.

      We have LIMITED freedom, and we may be better off erring on its side, but no rational man believes total freedom is desirable.

      We see honor killings, physical abuse, forced marriages and out right torture of children in fringe societies every day.

      Things like the priest scandals are CLEAR indications of what happens when we look the other way and consider freedom to believe in something more important than basic human rights.

      August 9, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      As long as they speak English, people shouldn't have to lose their heritage just in the name of assimilation. It's when people try and force their cultures that problems occur.

      August 9, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • CRH

      I'm all for taking away their right to wear their religios clothing as long as Christians stop wearing crosses everywhere. Then we can all start wearing blue (as I like this color) shirts and white pants. Everyone must have a jacket that is red (why not) and purple shoes. That way noone stands out as different and we can go back to the good ole days of just judging each other on EVERYTHING ELSE! Don't change a religous group, get rid of the crazy people going around shooting everyone!

      August 9, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • BG

      @ CRH

      You just described a Catholic school uniform. Congrats. I'm interested in how you'd go about getting rid of all the crazies. Annual MMPI's? Social correctness questioning? Would you send little Johnny off the the disintegration chamber if he didn't have the right answers or he looked at you suspi ciously?

      August 9, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
  6. AGuest9

    If I could have made it there, I would have been proud to stand with them, even as someone who is atheist.

    August 9, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  7. William Demuth

    Guys, I would be carefull.

    If the secret service are as clueless as most Americans are about Sikhs, they may believe a large group of militant Muslims are gathering on the White House lawn.

    The would make the Saint Valentines Day Massacre story pale in comparrison.

    August 9, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • ME II

      I'm guessing that they had to get a permit for this event and therefore the SS was prepared.

      August 9, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • Portland tony

      The only foreigners who get unlimited access to the White House lawn is the Gardners. Every one else it's by invite only!!

      August 9, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
  8. TheVocalAtheist

    I find this refreshing as it represents something that is meaningful, protesting hate. Are there Christians there to reinforce support?

    August 9, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • J.W

      I would have gone if I could have.

      August 9, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • hinduism, denial of truth

      Does any one know the meanings of word HUMAN, it is HU, "HIS" MANN, DESIRE, "HIS DESIRE" us the human, in violation of of "HIS" commandments, THE TRUTH ABSOLUTE, OUR CREATOR,
      Yahoo, YA, Attentive by heart and mind, base word for English word yes, and Ya in Arabic, Hoo, "HE' translated from Latin to English Bible. meaning "HE' attentive to from my heart and mind, Allah, AL, THE, LA, LIMIT, H, MOST HIGH OR ABSOLUTE, a word of Latin language. No need to be gentile slave of hindu's, liars of 18th century, use your own education, knowledge to understand game of hindu's crooks to be man of your own, than to be a hindu gentile, filthy slave of hindu santans, filthy goons.

      August 9, 2012 at 1:27 pm |

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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.