Local Sikh members react to Wisconsin shootings

11:42 AM, Aug 6, 2012   |    comments
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THONOTOSASSA, Florida - Members of the local Sikh community are reacting to the deadly shootings in Wisconsin that killed six people of their faith.

The congregation at the Sikh Gurdwara in Thonotosassa is shocked, saddened, and still reeling from the news.

"It is really very tragic and unsettling. I was shocked when I announced it in this congregation. It was a very, very sad moment of my life," said head priest Mohan Singh Rattan.

Members are concerned about whether the shootings are a hate crime or not. Though it's unclear what spawned this shooting rampage, Sikh members said they are often misunderstood and mistaken for Muslim extremists. They add the Sikh religion is based on peace, tolerance, hard work, good deeds, and equality for all.

According to Dr. Nick Shah, a local physician and expert in Indian history and religion, it's what makes this act of violence so tragically ironic. "This is the most peace-loving community. As a matter of fact, this is the community that any society would want to help as part of them. They are the most productive people in India," he said.

Singh Rattan said the congregation will be praying for the victims and their families and for humanity in general.

One member said he is a bit concerned for their safety in light of the shootings, but they have no plans on taking any extra precautions right now.

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