Palermo (WSYR-TV) -- Six people were killed at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin Sunday. The shooting hits close to home for a local Sikh community that's had its share of tragedy. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Gobind Sadan in Palermo was set on fire.
The turban Ralph Singh wears stands for truth and justice. His faith revolves around peace and acceptance and it’s where he turns to heal the heartbreak after a Wisconsin Sikh temple became the target of a gunman’s rage.
“It was not simply a matter of shock, but deep sadness that we as a country, as opposed to coming together and to build this wonderful nation on the sense of inclusiveness and pluralism, we are continuing to tear each other apart. This is the obvious consequence,” Singh said.
Singh says through tragedy comes teachable moments, a chance to educate, so crimes of hate and ignorance are not repeated.
When their temple went up in flames at the hands of four teenagers, Singh didn’t understand them and the temple forgave, rebuilt and created a stronger, more peaceful community.
“It’s extremely painful for me to see 11 years later, as opposed to moving in that direction of inclusiveness, we are moving backwards,” Singh said.
With more than 30 million followers, the Sikh faith is the fifth largest in the world. They believe in one God and that everyone is equal in his eyes. Singh says what comes after such violence will show their strength.
“The Sikh community has always dealt with hardship with great spirit and an understanding that even out of the darkness, the light sometimes shines the brightest,” Singh said.
In 2001, the four teenagers who torched the Gobind Sadan Temple in Oswego County, were charged with hate crimes because they thought the temple’s members supported Osama Bin Laden and the September 11 terrorist attacks.