Washington: Remembering the victims of the mass shooting at Oak Creek Gurdwara four years ago, the White House has said the US government is committed to protecting all places of worship.”As we mark the four-year anniversary of the tragedy at the Oak Creek Gurdwara, the Obama Administration continues its commitment to protecting all places of worship and religious communities,” the White House said in a blog post yesterday.
Four years ago on this day, a white supremacist gunman, Wade Michael Page, went on a shooting rampage at the Oak Creek Gurdwara, killing six Sikhs.The victims included one woman, Paramjit Kaur (41), and five men, Satwant Singh Kaleka (65), the founder of the gurdwara; Prakash Singh (39), a Granthi, Sita Singh (41), Ranjit Singh (49) and Suveg Singh Khattra (84).
“Today we remember the victims of the attack on the Sikh Gurdwara in Wisconsin and the many people affected by this tragedy,” tweeted Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to Obama and Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls.
In a blog post, the White House said since the Oak Creek tragedy, the Obama administration has taken additional steps to prevent and combat religion-based hate crimes.For example, the FBI now tracks hate crimes against Sikh, Hindu and Arab-American communities and has updated its hate crimes data collection guidelines and training manual accordingly.
Additionally, the White House said it has created a Hate Crimes Inter-agency Initiative on the fifth anniversary of the Shepard-Byrd Act to address prevention of and effective responses to hate crimes.
Recently, in response to troubling incidents targeting certain religious communities, including Sikhs, the White House and the Department of Justice launched a new initiative to identify and address religion-based discrimination and violence.
“Our work includes collaboration with civil society partners to confront ignorance and hate and build greater understanding across religious differences,” wrote Melissa Rogers and Taylor Ross from the White House.
In a statement, Rajwant Singh, chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education thanked the Obama administration for its steadfast support to the community.
“They have gone out of their way to express their solidarity with the community during the very difficult time and the subsequent years,” he said.”It is also noteworthy that the Sikh community has received an outpouring of support from Americans of all backgrounds and all faiths. This has continued to strengthen our faith in this nation and we are proud to call ourselves Americans,” Singh said.
“Today marks four years since the shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. Chilling reminder of what happens when hate and guns mix,” Senator Chris Murphy from Connecticut said in a tweet.
“We must continue to fight intolerance whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head,” Congressman Joe Crowley tweeted. PTI
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