Sikh temple shooting

A Double Standard of Terrorism

When a right-wing extremist kills people in the name of his ideology, is that terrorism?

A clearer picture of the Gurdwara shooting gunman’s intentions have emerged since my last post. It turns out that Wade Page, who was responsible for killing 6 people in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, US, was a white supremacist neo-Nazi.

Witnesses claimed that the gunman walked into the temple as if he knew exactly where he was going. Put together with his membership in white power bands and his research into white supremacy, it is clear that his intention was simply to kill non-white people.

White power bands usually just play songs with hateful and racist lyrics. But there are bands who are renowned for committing racially-aggravated crimes. The Hammerskins is one of them, a group that Wade Page knew very well.

White supremacy is an ideology that basically says  that white people are better than everybody else, and should therefore be the ruling power.

When Wade Page entered the Gurdwara last week, his message was to all non-white people – we (white people) will regain the country.

Double standards

Page’s attack on the Sikh temple certainly does fulfill the textbook definition of terrorism, which has two criteria; an act of violence, with a political message.

Yet politicians and journalists in the US seem to be very reluctant to label this an act of terrorism.

As international human rights lawyer Arsalan Iftikhar has pointed out – if a South Asian man had walked into a Church and shot 6 people, it would instantly be called a terrorist attack. But when the tables turn, it is a “pointless act of violence” as Mitt Romney has said.

In a way, this double standard of terrorism is somehow condoning white supremacist violence, as they are then able to avoid the stigma and condemnation that is associated with terrorism from other groups.

The US government has cut back on it’s surveillance of right-wing groups in order to watch Muslim fanatics more carefully. But there has actually been a dangerous rise in the number of white supremacist groups since 9/11, according to research by the Southern Poverty Law Centre.

Ku Klux Klan: One of the more famous terrorist,white supremacist groups. Photo: Arete13 / Flickr

More examples of Terror from the Right can be found here.

Heart goes out to the families of Prakash Singh, Suveg Singh, Ranjit Singh, Satwant Singh Kaleka and Sita Singh and Paramjit Kaur. May they rest in Peace.

Sikhs are the latest victims of cultural ignorance

Many suspect that the man responsible for the shooting in a Wisconsin Sikh Temple in the US had mistaken them for Muslims.

6 people, including both the Temple’s President and Priest, have died after being shot by Wade Michael Page, who launched an attack on the Sikh place of worship on Sunday morning.

Though the gunman’s intention has not been confirmed, the former member of the Armed Services has been related to racist groups.

This tragedy is somewhat reminiscent of the 1984 riots in India. Tens of thousands of Sikhs were killed in retaliation to the assassination of Indira Gandhi, who was murdered by one of her Sikh guards.

Confused attackers

Since 9/11, Sikhs in the US and UK have reported a sharp rise in violent attacks against them.

As many Muslims and Sikhs wear turbans, those who are unfamiliar with the Religions often confuse them with one another.

Of course, whether the gunman had meant to do the same to Muslims in a Mosque, the act would be equally as outrageous.

The Sikh turban was born out of defiance, during a time in which only the ruling Muslim majority were allowed to wear them.

Guru Gobind Singh Ji had ordered all Sikhs to wear turbans as a sign of their moral standards. In the Religion that is strongly based on teachings of equality, the turban also served to dispel the belief that turbans were only for the upper classes.

A pious Sikh man in the Golden Temple, Amritsar. Photo: Nick Leonard / Flickr

Cultural ignorance

If you think about it, on TV, there is hardly ever a mention of different Religions, or Religion at all, unless they are being blamed for something. And in the public arena, it has become so sensitive, that people are scared of talking about it.

As President Obama reminded the US, though it may have been a little late, the Sikhs have done a lot for the nation.

Broadcasters and publishers need to make religious people more visible in positive contexts. And religious leaders need to be more active in sharing the true meanings of their Faiths.

Ultimately we need to strive towards building an atmosphere in which all people, religious or not, can share and learn from each other.

Gun Legality

Just over 2 weeks ago, similar images flashed across our screens as 12 lives were claimed by the “Batman shooting” in Colorado.

But US Politicians, who currently seem to be overlooking the issue of gun control in the fore-run to the elections, may no longer be able to ignore it after Sunday’s violence.