Sat sri akal!!- By C.J. Watkins

It’s very out of sorts for me to comment on something without a fully formed opinion. And I can’t make a fully informed opinion until I have all the information and facts. With the horrible shooting at a Sikh temple inOak Creek,Wisconsin, details are still sketchy and much remains unanswered.

Sources attached to ABC have come out that the shooter is a white supremacist or skinhead racist. Frankly, I don’t know what that has to do with anything other that to stir the pot, since the identity and any possible motive hasn’t been released. It was wanton homicide, plain and simple, and I could care less about the race or ethnicity of the shooter. About the only light this “info” would have is to maybe put a motive to this and perhaps in the shooter twisted mind, he thought he was taking out muslims.

Frankly, I see this as a symptom as a much bigger problem. That being ignorance. Luckily, ignorance can be educated. Sorry, but you can’t fix stupid…

Since the 9-11 attacks, the Sikh community has experienced more bias, discrimination, and there have even been attacks against them. For the uninformed, their turbans and long beards could cause mistaken identity. But let me state this in no uncertain terms; Sikh’s ARE NOT MUSLIMS!!!

Sikh’s are mostly Punjabi. Most recent act of terrorism has been done by muslim (lower case intentional) males of Middle Eastern or Persian descent. It’s on its best day and apples to oranges comparison. In fact the title of this commentary is Punjabi that Sikh’s use as a general greeting. Sort of like “hey, how’s it going.” Unlike claims by adherents of islam (lower case intentional), Sikhism is a faith of peace.

There is no history of the Sikh’s ever engaging in war or acts of aggression against anyone else. Yes, they have a long history of strong warriors, but they will only fight to defend themselves. For over three hundreds years, Sikh’s were persecuted endlessly, including by the muslims. But at the core of their beliefs, Sikh’s adhere to a philosophy of non violence, reverence for human life, and even the equality of women. If a non Sikh goes to a Sikh temple, they will be greeted, welcomed inside, and even invited to enjoy a vegetarian meal with the rest of the Sikh’s in attendance.

Now, because of their long beards and turbans, there are those who have mistaken them for muslims. I’m here to educate everyone in the differences. First off, Sikh’s wear a turban because they are forbidden to cut their hair, and a turban makes it easier to manage and keep clean. Same for the facial hair. It typically forms a peak over the middle of the forehead, whereas the muslim turban is flat, circular, and rounded. And, muslims rarely wear turbans in Western countries in the first place or if they do, it’s within safe confines such as the mosque.

Secondly, Sikh’s wear an iron wrist band as a symbol of eternity. Muslims don’t wear anything comparable. Lastly, all Sikh’s carry either a kirpan, or curved sword, In Western countries, it tends to be a small dagger. And, if you’re still not sure, simple greet them with a hearty “sat sri akal!” Usually, they will be surprised to hear a non Sikh greet them in Punjabi, but once that initial shock wears off, they will often smile, shake hands and give the greeting back to you. Perhaps because they are tired of being mistaken for muslims all the time…

It’s time for the ignorance to stop. The Sikh’s have suffered under the scimitar of militant islam as much as anyone, not perpetrated atrocious acts such as putting bomb pack onto their own children. If you see a turban bedecked man in theU.S., in all likelihood, they’re not muslim. If there is any doubt, look at the shape of the turban, for the iron bracelet, and of course greet them. It’s time to embrace the Sikh community as a valuable partner against terrorism and our neighbors, not lump them in with those that would do us harm out of simple misinformation or ignorance.



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