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US lawmaker condemns vandalism of Gurdwara in California

india Updated: Aug 01, 2013 09:34 IST

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A top American lawmaker has condemned the vandalism of a gurdwara in California with the word "terrorist" scrawled on its walls, days ahead of the first anniversary of the Oak Creek Gurdwara shooting in Wisconsin.

Congressman Joe Crowley, vice chair of House Democratic Caucus, and Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans said the pattern of violence against the Sikh-American community is reprehensible.

"We must send a powerful message to people responsible that we will not tolerate this kind of attack against any community - whether it is in New York, California or anywhere else," he said referring to the latest act of vandalism against the Sikh house of worship.

Numerous reports indicate that unidentified individuals spray painted the derogatory word on the wall surrounding the temple.

Opened in 1989, the gurdwara has been a victim of vandalism multiple times, its priest Anantvirr Singh said, adding that this is for the first time that someone has written hate language.

"As we approach the anniversary of the terrible tragedy at Oak Creek, I urge officials to investigate the incident as a possible hate crime," said Crowley adding that he is deeply troubled by the events that took place on Tuesday at the Sikh Gurdwara in Riverside, California.

The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) urged the local police and the FBI to investigate the incident as a hate crime.

"It is horrible to see an attack of hate on a place of worship as we reflect on the lives lost one year ago during the attack on the Oak Creek Gurdwara.

These acts strike the very foundation of religious tolerance, a fundamental freedom this country was built upon," said SALDEF executive director Jasjit Singh.

"We call upon local and federal law enforcement agencies to rightfully classify this incident as a hate crime and bring the perpetrators to justice to show that hate and violence are not tolerated in our society," Singh said.

The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today expressed solidarity with the Sikh community following the incident.

"We stand in solidarity with the Sikh community and against the actions of a tiny minority of bigots who violate our nation's longstanding principles of religious tolerance and inclusion," said CAIR-LA executive director Hussam Ayloush.

The North American Punjabi Association (NAPA) in a statement expressed its concern about the increasing number of attacks on Sikhs and vandalism of Sikh gurdwara.

"Vandalism on Riverside Gurdwara should be properly investigated by police and sheriff's departments, as well as the FBI and US Justice Department to investigate the incident as a hate crime," said NAPA spokesman Satnam Singh Chahal.