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Pronounce it for me: Sikh
A shirt at a New York vigil honoring victims of the Wisconsin temple shooting.
August 9th, 2012
02:00 PM ET

Pronounce it for me: Sikh

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - As terror struck the heart of the Sikh community with Sunday's mass shooting at a Wisconsin gurdwara, a Sikh house of worship, the tiny American Sikh population was thrust into the spotlight.

Many Americans were hearing about the faith for the first time.

Among all the questions surrounding the 500-year-old faith, one stood out.

Do you pronounce it like "sick" or like "seek?"

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Sikh • TV

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.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Sikh • Violence

The Sikh turban: at once personal and extremely public
Harmeet Singh Soin (Left) and his brother Harkirat Singh Soin (Right) differ on wearing the Sikh turban.
August 8th, 2012
04:48 PM ET

The Sikh turban: at once personal and extremely public

By Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) - Harkirat Singh Soin remembers a day in 1999 when, after much contemplation, he finally took a seat in a barber's chair.

All his 18 years, he'd worn long hair, first in a top knot, then in a dastar, or turban. It was an expression of his Sikh faith and a distinct mark of his identity.

As his locks tumbled to the floor, Soin felt ashamed.

CNN iReporter: I am a Sikh, please don’t hate me

He thought of his upbringing in a suburban Milwaukee neighborhood by Punjabi parents who emigrated from India. He grew up on meals of homemade roti and daal makhani and sessions at Sunday school that instilled Sikh values. He thought also of how his mother had taken time to maintain her boys' long hair with love and care.

With every snip of the shears, he felt, he lost not just hair but parts of his being.

But he was tired of not fitting in, of being teased. Once when he was in elementary school, he was even beaten with sticks by neighborhood troublemakers, he says.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Race • Sikh

My Take: An American tradition of bigotry
A member of the Miwaukee area Sikh community weeps as he listens to information about the shooting spree in Wisconsin.
August 7th, 2012
01:37 PM ET

My Take: An American tradition of bigotry

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

(CNN)–Like many Americans, I reacted to the murders at the Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, with horror, and to the apparent arson at a Joplin, Missouri, mosque with sadness.

But I did not react with shock.

As the adviser to the Sikh Association at Boston University and a professor of many Muslim students, I am aware of the day-to-day discrimination these religious minorities experience in the United States. And as a historian I am aware of the history of discrimination against both groups throughout U.S. history.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Church and state • Culture wars • Immigration • Interfaith issues • Islam • Mitt Romney • Opinion • Politics • Religious liberty • Religious violence • Sikh • United States

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.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Crime • Sikh

August 6th, 2012
06:32 AM ET

Temple shooting dredges up memories of long history of bias crimes against Sikhs

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN)–Immediately after the September 11, 2001, terrorist acts, Sikhs came under attack.

Mistaken for Muslims for their beards and turbans, they became ripe targets for zealots seeking revenge.

The first person murdered in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks was a Sikh – a gas station owner in Mesa, Arizona, named Balbir Singh Sodhi who was shot five times by aircraft mechanic Frank Roque.

In the intervening years, the Sikh Coalition, a New York-based advocacy group, reported more than 700 attacks or bias-related incidents.

Some Sikhs had their houses vandalized; others were spat upon. In some extreme cases, Sikhs were set upon by groups of people and beaten.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Crime • Houses of worship • Religious violence • Sikh

Gunman, six others dead at Wisconsin Sikh temple
Police guard the front of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin where a gunman fired upon people at a service on Sunday Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
August 5th, 2012
08:39 PM ET

Gunman, six others dead at Wisconsin Sikh temple

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
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Crime • Sikh

August 5th, 2012
06:20 PM ET

Explainer: Who are Sikhs and what do they believe?

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.

FULL POST

- Producer/Writer

Filed under: Belief • Houses of worship • Religious violence • Sikh

August 5th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

10 years after Sikh murder over 9/11, community continues to blend in and stand out

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.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 9/11 • Sikh • United States • Virginia

Sikh group develops app to report airport profiling
The Sikh Coalition unveils new app to combat racial profiling.
April 30th, 2012
05:26 PM ET

Sikh group develops app to report airport profiling

By Arielle Hawkins, CNN

Washington (CNN)–
- Airline travelers who feel they've been harassed at airport check-ins by screeners now have a speedier outlet on which to complain right at their fingertips.

The Sikh Coalition, a civil rights advocacy group, on Monday released a mobile application on iPhones and Android phones giving passengers who feel they've been racially or religiously profiled a way to speak out against screeners with the Transportation Security Administration.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Sikh

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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.

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