"Crime against innocent worshipers is deplorable, said Parvinder Singh, spokesperson for Sikh Educational Welfare Association (SEWA) Gurudwara Sahib congregation in Roswell, speaking about recent revelations which suggest Sunday's shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin was not a random act, but instead rooted in hate.
In the days since shooter Wade Michael Page shot a half dozen Sikh worshipers before he was himself killed by an Oak Creek Police officer, details about the tragedy have emerged to show that Page was linked to several white supremacy groups. Media reports have indicated that Page, a neo-Nazi heavy-metal band member, was consumed by hate.
"It is tragic, but unfortunately not surprising, that the shooter specifically chose a place of worship to commit this massacre," said Sikh Coalition Executive Director Sapreet Kaur. "If, as it now seems, hate is confirmed as the motivation for what happened here, it is important that we redouble our collective efforts to build a nation where this type of racial and ethnic hate has no sanction.”
According to an infographic in USA Today, as of 2011, Georgia has 65 active hate groups, second in the nation after California, which has 84.
Locally, Singh said the shooting has brought sadness and mourning, but Roswell Sikhs are standing "united with unflinching positivity."
While several organizations are planning interfaith vigils across the country for Wednesday eveing, SEWA will hold a special candlelight service on Friday, Aug. 10. The local congregation is inviting all local residents and religious organizations to join them.
"We really hope that the victim families get strength to bear this tragic incident," said Singh. "We wish a speedy recovery to the officers and the other injured in the incident."
Details about the candlelight service, to be held from 7:30 p.m.-9 p.m., will be posted to the SEWA website Tuesday or Wednesday.