The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has expressed concern over the safety of Sikhs and their places of worship in the US after a gurdwara in Buena Park near Los Angeles was vandalised with anti-Islamic State (IS) graffiti.
These fears were expressed by SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar in a letter addressed to US President Barack Obama. A copy of the letter, released to the media here on Thursday, has also been sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the US ambassador to India.
Addressing the media, Makkar said the Sikh community in the US had again become a victim of hate crime. Sikhs in the US and other western nations are often mistaken as members of the Muslim community and they become easy targets for hate crime, he added.
“Despite having repeatedly brought this problem before the US administration, no steps have been taken to ensure the protection of the Sikh community and their shrines. The moment a Sikh steps out of his house in the US, he has to move very cautiously, lest he becomes a target of hate crime,” Makkar said.
He pointed out that since the killing of six Sikhs at a Wisconsin gurdwara in 2012, the community had persistently come under attack after being mistaken as Muslims due to the turban they wear. “The turban is an important headgear of the Sikhs and it cannot be discarded and this has been explained to the US law-enforcing authorities by Sikhs settled in that country,” he said.
“Sikhs are peace-loving citizens of the US and have never created any problem there. They have contributed significantly towards the development of the US,” the letter added.
UAE ‘ardas’ row
On the changes made in the ‘ardas’ at a gurdwara in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last month, Makkar said the SGPC had written to Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh to take action against those responsible for the amendments.
He added that the Akal Takht had summoned a meeting of the Sikh high priests next week to discuss the issue.