Sikh Temple Shooting: Houston Sikhs Consider Their Options, Plead For An End to Ignorance

Harmeet Kaur was sitting in her Sikh temple in Houston this morning when a girlfriend texted her the news. The girlfriend had stayed home and was watching television as the news broke about the Sikh temple shooting in Wisconsin.

At least seven people were killed in the 10:25 a.m. attack carried out in a Milwaukee suburb -- including the gunman shot by police -- according to CNN. Her girlfriend texted her as the gunman was still holding hostages.

"We're all shaken," said Kaur, a Sikh Coalition volunteer advocate. "We spread the news to the leaders of the temple. The leaders they all announced it and they all included it in their Sunday prayers. We're just kind of hoping for the best. It's a real shocker for all of us."

As we explained in a December column "Mistaken Identities," Sikhs are not Muslims but are often mistaken for them because of the turbans they wear. Their religion has its basis in India, not the Middle East.

"We all saw kind of similar things after 9/11 when there was a lot of racial profiling. People would get shot because people thought they were Muslim. After so many years something like happening, we're all in front of our TVs right now," Kaur said.

Asked if the local Sikh group will take any extra precautions now, she said: "We may start thinking and talking about what to do about concealed guns. Right now I don't know that anyone does that." But she didn't know if people would want to allow them in to protect themselves or to call for an increased tightening of gun laws.

"Especially something like this happening in such a short period of time after the Aurora shootings."

Asked what she wished for, Kaur said: "The main thing is to say to people to become more aware. There's still so much ignorance. I wish more and more people would do the extra research. If they see someone with a turban they would go online, learn what it is to be a Sikh. We're a peaceful people."

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