Three years ago, Paramjit Kaur Saini, Satwant Singh Kaleka, Suveg Singh Khattra, Prakash Singh, Ranjit Singh and Sita Singh were murdered by Wade Michael Page at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. Deepya Iyer looks at where things stand in 2015 and what can be done better to prevent similar hate violence in the future.
In the years since the Sikh temple massacre much has changed in the city of Oak Creek, a suburb outside Milwaukee where working-class immigrants including Sikhs have settled. Many of the young immigrant children—whose entry to America was marked by the loss of a parent to bigotry—are now making their way through high school and college. Young Sikh-Americans like Kamal, Mandeep Kaur and Rahul Dubay have become visible participants in interfaith and multiracial citywide events to promote diversity and inclusion. Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi regularly speaks about the need for American cities to be prepared for hate violence. And at the federal level, the FBI is beginning to track hate crimes committed against Arabs, Hindus and Sikhs as a result of advocacy led by the Sikh community.
Yet, around the nation, hate violence against people in their places of worship continues. Just in the past six months, a Jewish synagogue outside Washington, D.C., was defaced with swastikas and KKK signs; more than 200 protesters, including many with guns, held a “Free Speech” protest against Islam outside of a Phoenix mosque; and a sign at the site for a Hindu temple near Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was found riddled with more than 60 bullet holes. The summer began with the devastating act of hate violence at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, when 21-year-old Dylann Roof shot and killed nine people. This tragedy was followed by reports of arsons at black churches.