Local Sikhs spread message of equality, service

August 6, 2012 2:32:19 PM PDT
In light of the mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin which left six victims and the gunman dead, local Sikhs are looking to help others understand their faith.

Outside their house of worship, the gurudwara in Millbourne, Delaware County, key members of the Sikh community say they are concerned in the wake of the deadly attack.

"The American people don't understand the difference between Muslims and between Sikhs," said Harbhejan Singh of Millbourne.

The gurudwara in Milbourne is the largest in the Philadelphia area. Their close-knit community now represents 60% of the population of this tiny hamlet that sits in the shadow of Upper Darby.

In fact, Sikhs are such an integral part of local life, Gurbakhash Singh Basra was elected to the town council.

"We love everybody, they love us. Everybody is cooperating here," Councilman Basra said.

The local police have stepped up patrols here. Since the 9/11 attacks, Sikhs have come under steady attack in this country, mistaken for Muslims for their beards and turban.

They've been frequent targets for racist zealots, with more than 700 bias-related attacks nationwide have been documented. Many Sikh males drive taxis said say they are regulary harassed by fellow motorists.

"They say 'Hey bin Laden,' and they are cursing and yelling but they never hurt us," said Dharam S. Khalsa of Milbourne.

Millbourne police, working with police in Upper Darby, are steadily monitoring the security situation.

"We can almost assure you that this won't happen. We won't let it happen," said Capt. Joel Besky of the Melbourne Police.

The Sikh community feels compelled to emphasize over and over again that their faith, the world's fifth most popular religion, is devoted to equality including freedom of religion and community service to others.

"We are not Muslim. We are Sikh. We bring peace on Earth and we welcome everybody in our temple, no matter to what religion they belong," said Om Sharma.


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