News

Palo Alto Sikhs try to raise awareness

Forty-five-year-old Sikh Foundation in Palo Alto advances culture in the West

Local Sikh philanthropist and entrepreneur Narinder Singh Kapany sees the Aug. 5 shooting in Wisconsin that left six Sikhs dead as part of a disturbing trend of violence against his religious group.

Sikhism is a monotheistic religion from the Punjab region of Southeast Asia whose men traditionally wear turbans and long beards. Kapany said that Sikhs have increasingly been the victims of acts of violence since the Sept. 11 attacks, often because they're confused with Muslims.

Wade Michael Page, the alleged perpetrator of this weekend's shooting, had ties to white supremacist organizations, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups and other domestic extremists.

Page, who was killed by police officers who responded to the shooting, was a member of two white power rock bands, End Apathy and Definite Hate, according to the center. While Page's motives remain unknown, the New York-based Sikh Coalition has reported more than 700 attacks or bias-related crimes against Sikhs since the Sept. 11 attacks.

In 2006, Iqbal Singh, a Sikh living in Santa Clara, was stabbed in the neck by a man with a steak knife who apparently believed Singh was a member of the Taliban. Instances of vandalism, arson, assault and murder have also occurred across the country.

"I feel terrible about it -- these are good, hard-working, dedicated people," Kapany said. "Right here in the Silicon Valley, there are 40 or 50 Sikhs running their own companies, hiring people and doing wonderful things for our country."

He also mentioned that Dalip Singh Saund, the first Asian U.S. Representative, was a Sikh. Saund was a California congressman from 1957 to 1963.

Kapany himself is credited with being one of the founders of fiber optics. He founded the Sikh Foundation, located in Palo Alto, in 1967 to advance the Sikh culture in the West. The foundation's activities include setting up Sikh art exhibits in major museums, such as the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. and the Rubin Museum of Art in New York.

Kapany said the foundation has also helps organize courses, conferences and academic chairs of Sikh studies at Western universities.

"The only answer, quite frankly, is to get the people to learn what we're all about," he said of anti-Sikh sentiments. "Come to our temple. We welcome everyone. Meet with us, try to understand, and that's all we ask."

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by white supremacists
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 6, 2012 at 7:26 pm

I am dubious that the alleged white supremacist killer was targeting Sikhs in particular, even though he lived close enough to the temple that he likely knew this was a Sikh temple and not another religion. More likely, he was targeting Asian-American in general or non-white people in general. The Sikhs just happened to be the closest targets for him.

I do applaud the media for taking this opportunity to educate Americans about Sikhs. Too often, American minority groups receive absolutely zero press coverage until a tragedy occurs.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 6, 2012 at 7:44 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by white supremacists
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 6, 2012 at 10:33 pm

Another terrorist attack today, this time in Joplin, Missouri: Web Link
Are these coordinated attacks by white supremacist groups?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sikhing-Peace-In-A-Violent-World
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2012 at 7:14 am

> Kapany said that Sikhs have increasingly been the victims of
> acts of violence since the Sept. 11 attacks, often
> because they're confused with Muslims.

The number of attacks against Sikhs that have been resolved as definitely 'anti-Sikh' is very, very, small, compared to the number of violent attacks that have occurred in the general population, since 9/11. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

> but they do have a terrorist wing

If one reads the lengthy review of Sikhism on the Wiki-page provided in the link above, it's clear that Sikh violence/terrorism is far more prevalent than the term "wing" might suggest. It's clear that Sikhs in India are responsible for much violence, and many deaths, trying to create a 'state' that is for Sikhs. (Not clear if this would be a Sikh theocracy, but there seems to be little room for democracy in religion-based states.)

> is to get the people to learn what we're all about,

Given the violence nature of Sikhs in India (and Canada), how does one readily come to know what Sikhs say they are about, and what they really are about?

> American minority groups receive absolutely zero press
> coverage until a tragedy occurs.

And why should they? If people don't come to America to create a new future, distinct from the one that they are leaving'their reasons from coming to the US are suspect, and their experiences here are likely to be unhappy. Our offer of 'religious tolerance' is not intended to be an invitation to people from all over the world to come here and 'change us to look like themselves'. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Really, Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 7, 2012 at 8:02 am

Sharon, there are bad people in every ethnic and religious group. Do not forget that the second worst terrorist attack in the US was carried out by white Christians.
I really do not understand what you are trying to get across.


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