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Nazareth Sikhs Disturbed By Wisconsin Shooting

Guru Nanak Sikh Society of Lehigh Valley members are "disturbed" by news of mass shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin; plans are in motion to speak to local officials about protecting local temples.

Surrounded by farmers' fields and a few houses dotted along nearby King George Drive, you may have never noticed the resting off Daniels Road at the top of a long driveway.

For the 400 families the temple serves, however, the seclusion has become a cause for alarm.

 and many others wounded in a Sunday morning mass shooting at the  in Oak Creek, a suburb of Milwaukee.

Police said three bodies were found outside the temple and four were inside the building. The gunman is among the dead in what police are calling a "well-coordinated attack."

"We need protection here, too," said Jaswinder Singh, a committee member at the local Sikh temple. "We’re not feeling safe."

While children -- some too young to understand the gravity of the situation in Wisconsin -- giggle and run down the temple's hallways, Singh said older members are hesitant and scared to come to temple.

"Everyone is calling and contacting the committee, asking if it's safe to come to the temple," he added.

Singh said committee members plan to contact officials later in the week to discuss how the temple could be protected.

"They want protection from the town," Singh stressed. "We need something."

In addition to worship services daily from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., the temple holds Punjab language and martial arts classes.

While one person described Sunday's shooting as "a hate crime," the motive has yet to be officially identified.

"Whatever [the motive], we don’t want that to happen here," Singh said. "This shouldn’t have to happen to anyone ever again."

Singh added, "The Sikh community is disturbed."

Relatives in India -- watching the situation in Wisconsin unfold live -- have been checking in to make sure the Lehigh Valley community hasn't been directly affected.

"They are calling their brothers, their cousins… they want to make sure it didn’t happen here," Singh said. "They are making sure we are all safe."

In addition to broaching the subject of protection with Lower Nazareth officials, according to Singh, committee members from Guru Nanak Sikh Society of Lehigh Valley will also meet with members from nearby temples in Easton and Reading.

The Guru Nanak Sikh Society of Lehigh Valley was established in 1999.

The local society first gathered for worship in the basement of an auto repair center in Easton. They later built a temple off Route 946 near Christian Springs Road in Lower Nazareth Township. The group grew from just a few families in the 1970s.

Sikhism is the fifth largest organized religion in the world. It dates back about 500 years and is centered in India's Pubjab region.

At the Sikh temple in Lower Nazareth, worshippers remove their shoes, cover their heads and sit on the carpeted floor. They wear an array of brightly colored clothing including turbans for some of the men. 

More Sikhs have moved to the Lehigh Valley from New York City since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It's a religion that's often misunderstood and some members are afraid of being mistaken for Muslim extremists.

Sikh leaders are working to get the FBI to more accurately track hate crimes against the community.


Patrick Shane August 06, 2012 at 12:49 AM
Want stricter gun control? View the video and sign the petition! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_hZQPpCJ1M
Rosemary B August 06, 2012 at 01:22 AM
Stricter gun control laws are not the answer. If someone wanted to attack this temple and could not get a gun they would probably make a bomb.
Ben Miller August 06, 2012 at 02:13 AM
Why would these folks have reason to believe they are in danger, here in Nazareth? I grew up in one of those houses along King George Drive, know the area and the neighborhood like the back of my hand. They're good people, as are the people in the rest of Nazareth and the area. It's offensive to tell the leaders of Lower Nazareth that they need to be protected from the rest of us, just because we are members of a different religion or in some cases, subscribe to no organized religion. What happened today in Wisconsin was a terrible tragedy, perpetrated by a madman. I can't express enough sympathy for the families of those who were lost, their congregation and all their fellow worshipers around the country. I don't mean to minimize their suffering in any way, it was horrible. However, it was the act of one crazy man all the way across the country. The very end of this article talks about members of their church moving to the Lehigh Valley to avoid prejudice and racial stereotyping. Tell me how their characterization of the Nazareth community as people they need to be protected against, based solely on our skin colors and religion, is not that exact same type of prejudice and racial stereotyping?
Ben Miller August 06, 2012 at 02:18 AM
Gun control? Sure, because most criminals follow the laws...
GREG L August 06, 2012 at 03:11 AM
Whereas I'd tend to agree that the danger here in Nazareth is not a concern, one can understand generally feelings of insecurity this can spawn coming on the heels of the Colorado shootings. It would appear that one is not necessarily safe going about and doing the things that are a part of everyday life. Unfortunately, it appears that our society is creating some sick maladjusted individuals..
Clark Willison August 06, 2012 at 05:48 AM
I can't say for sure why these terrible acts were committed today, but I do know that over the past several weeks numerous death threats have been leveled at Amardeep Kaleka and his family regarding the content of the upcoming documentary 'Sirius' (sirius.neverendinglight.com). I don't think its a coincidence that he was present at the shooting, and his father was wounded, and I find it very suspicious that eyewitness accounts and the official police account of the number of shooters differ considerably.
Ben Miller August 06, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Are you really trying to find some sort of conspiracy in this tragedy? Are you suggesting the police were complicit in some sort of cover-up? Come on, man. It's crap like that, that scares people in the first place. The wife of the Temple's President watched it happen, identified the shooter by a description that fit the man perfectly and the police have id'd him http://washington.cbslocal.com/2012/08/06/cbs-news-shooter-identified-as-former-us-military-member/
Brendan Kelly August 14, 2012 at 07:12 PM
The UN statistics on homicide by firearms in 2009 (the last year to collect this data) claims that The us had 9,100 murders by firearm, and that's down from the previous 5 years. The only other countries to have higher homicides by firearms are Mexico, Columbia and Venezuela, all third world countries with no gun control. Canada, in comparison, had 173 homicides by firearms in '09. These are the facts. you cant deny them. Take the guns away and people wont die. We are an uncivilized country when it comes to guns and gun control. Its the wild west all over again. You are right when it comes to "if they wanted to attack this temple they would have...", it happens elsewhere, but they are rare occurrences. Here, its the norm. Go to North or West Philly and they are shooting each other up daily. remove the guns and they will be using knives and bats, but its easier to defend and survive against that.

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