By A Correspondent
Chicago: The outrageous shooting incident in Gurudwara at Oak Creek in Wisconsin, in which seven devotees were killed and several others were injured has been widely condemned by the governments of the US and Indian, several religious groups, community organizations and associations. They have offered their deepest condolences to the members of the affected families.
President Barack Obama has issued a proclamation, condemning the incident and honoring the victims of the tragedy.
He said: “As a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence, by the authority vested in me as President of the United States by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, I hereby order that the flag of the US shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and upon all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the US and its territories and possessions until sunset, August 10, 2012. I also direct that the flag shall be flown at half-staff for the same length of time at all US embassies, legations, consular offices and other facilities abroad, including all military facilities and naval vessels and stations.”
In a rare gesture and without losing any time, the President convened a call with FBI Director Bob Mueller, Chief of Staff Jack Lew, and Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan to receive an update on the tragic shooting. Following that briefing, the President called Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi and trustee of the Sikh Temple Charanjeet Singh to express his condolences for the lives lost and his concern for those who were injured. He directed the Federal Government to assist as appropriate in the investigation into the shooting.
India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed shock and sadness over the shooting incident at the gurudwara and hoped authorities in the US would ensure that such violent acts were not repeated.
“I am deeply shocked and saddened to learn of the shooting incident that has resulted in the loss of precious lives and injuries to devotees attending a prayer service at a gurudwara in Wisconsin, USA,” he said in a statement in New Delhi.
“We hope that the authorities will reach out to the grieving families and ensure conditions that such violent acts are not repeated in future,” Dr. Singh said.
The Prime Minister said what was more painful was the fact that this “senseless act of violence” should be targeted at a religious place.
“I send my deepest condolences to the families that have been bereaved in this incident. Our thoughts are with them in this moment of their grief.”
In a press note, the Indian Embassy in Washington DC, said: “The Embassy is seized of the situation and has been in touch with the National Security Council in Washington, DC. Our Consulate General in Chicago too has been in close touch with the local authorities to monitor the situation. An official has been deputed to visit the site to ascertain the situation on-the-spot.”
While expressing deepest sorrow, the Sikh Coalition in New York said that it was in touch with both the FBI’s Civil Rights Division and the White House and both had promised to continue to monitor the situation. The Sikh Coalition is also in direct contact with a trustee of the Sikh temple of Wisconsin.
In a press note, its executive director Sapreet Kaur said: “The Sikh Coalition’s thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the shooting, the Sikh community of Milwaukee, and the larger community of Wisconsin, which we know will stand with their Sikh neighbors with their support and prayers during this very trying time.”
Another Sikh group, United Sikhs, issued a press note “strongly condemning” the shooting incident. It said: “It is very disturbing news for the entire Sikh American community and the Sikh Diaspora worldwide. The incident has been labeled as a well organized crime of terror.”
While thanking friends and neighbors from across the country for their outpouring of support and condolences, the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) said the Sikh community like all Americans was shocked at the attack. In a statement, SALDEF managing director Kanveet Singh said: “We mourn the loss of those who were killed and pray for the swift recovery of those injured, including the veteran police officer, who showed considerable bravery to protect the community.”
The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) called up on all Americans to join Sikhs in mourning, also try to learn the sublime teachings of Sikh gurus, the Sikh faith and the meaning of external symbols, and ensure that the gurudwaras remain sanctuaries of joyous worship and celebrated sharing of langar or community meals.
In a press release, HAF said that dharma traditions – the Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Hindus – hold non-violence and peaceful co-existence as paramount values. “It is a cruel irony that Sikhs, donning the turban as among proud symbols of a spiritual mandate to serve humanity as defenders of dharma against all onslaughts, find themselves sought out and victimized by ignorant assailants,” it added.
The World Hindu Council of America (VHPA) expressed its deepest anguish at the tragic violence leading to the cold blooded murder of seven devotees and critically wounding many others. VHPA said: “We condemn this brutal act of terror and assure all possible support to the members of Oak Tree gurudwara in ensuring the safe and support to the community.”
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) condoled with the deaths and sympathized with the victims and their families. “We deeply saddened and shocked by the horrible violence committed against the Sikh community. We join our Sikh brothers and sisters in their mourning and we commend those sacrificed their own safety and lives to protect the innocent people,” it said.
Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP) - USA described the gurudwara shooting as mindless act of perverted persons that needed severe condemnation. “We express our sincere condolences to the families and friends of the diseased and pray for the safety of all. We demand that the Obama administration to take concrete steps to prevent this kind of domestic terrorism,” it added.
Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) expressed its unequivocal condemnation of the shooting at the Sikh temple. “Today is a day of mourning for all who value human life and cherish freedom of religion. An attack on innocent people in a house of worship is an attack on our collective humanity and human values,” said Shaheen Khateeb, president of IAMC.
In a statement, the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) expressed its strong and unequivocal condemnations of the shooting of innocent people at the Milwaukee gurudwara. “We join with all community organizations and agencies in our condemnation as we share the pain and anguish of our brothers and sisters in the USA. We extend our condolences to the families of the victims and offer prayers for the speedy recovery of those injured,” it added.
Dr. Narendra Kumar, president of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), said. “We stand in solidarity with the Sikh community and we condemn this most heinous attack on Sikhs in the United States. We share our deepest condolences with the families of the victims, local residents and other members of the community impacted by the horrific shooting,” he added.
He urged the government of Wisconsin and the FBI to bring to justice all who were connected with this crime. “We offer our condolences and sympathies to the families of the people who died in the attack and pray for the recovery of those who were injured in the attack,” he added.
Dr. Jayesh Shah, president-elect of AAPI, expressed sadness and anguish at the attack on a place of worship of the Sikh community, and urged the law enforcement officials to be vigilant and prevent future attacks.
FIA-Chicago expressed its condolences to the families of the victims of the tragic shooting of gurudwara in Milwaukee. “We strongly condemn this type of attacks on any religious places. FIA-Chicago will do everything to put pressure and extend solid representation to the Homeland Security and other police agencies to have a high security around religious places. FIA president Agnihotri visited the site of shooting the same day, and a candle light vigil was also attended by trustee chair Iftekhar Shareef along with Anil Pillai, Keerthi Ravoori and Sunhita at Palatine Gurudwara,” said a press note issued by FIA.
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) said that it was deeply saddened by the tragedy that occurred at the Sikh temple. SAALT condemned the shooting and extend its deepest sympathies to the families of the victims.
The South Asian American Policy & Research Institute (SAAPRI) and the Midwest Office of the Japanese American Citizens League extend profound sympathies to the families of those who were killed and injured in a tragic act of violence at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.
The Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) in a statement said: “APIAHF stands united with the Sikh American community. This attack was motivated by hate, xenophobia, and racism. It violated the civil rights, safety, and security of innocent and ordinary people and was an attack against all Americans. We are a nation founded on liberty and justice for all. APIAHF calls on communities everywhere to stand in unison with the Sikh American community and oppose all forms of hatred, violence, and intolerance.”