SikhsPAC Chairman Reassures Indiana After Greenwood Gurdwara Incident

On behalf of the Sikh community, I extend our sincerest apologies for the problems that occurred – and I reassure you th...

 

Hello. My name is Gurinder Singh Khalsa and I am the Chairman of SikhsPAC, an organization that represents more than 10,000 Sikhs who live in Indiana and more than 3,500 Sikh-owned businesses here in our state.

I am speaking to you today to comment on a very sad situation that occurred at the Sikh Temple in Greenwood this past weekend.

The situation happened after a regularly scheduled leadership election, when the old governing committee resisted stepping down and letting the new committee take control.

There was a great deal of shouting and name calling – and some minor violence ... and the situation was dealt with at the Temple.

This was a very sad day for the Sikh community, because it is not who we are and doesn’t reflect the values that the Sikhs cherish.

In addition, this disgusting event took place on the holiest day of the Sikh calendar, so those who participated not only brought shame to themselves, but also to the religion as a whole.

Sikhs value peace. We value faith, family, equality, social justice and artistic expression. We work hard to give back to our neighbors and those who welcome us with open arms. And aggressive behavior is not our way.

What happened a few days ago was an isolated case that began with the best of intentions and ended in a fit of passion. Unfortunately, these types of situations occur in every community when ego and arrogance get out of hand.

The media immediately jumped onto this story and it was quickly sensationalized into something it was not. I would like to dispel some of the rumors that spread across the media and the internet.

First, there were not hundreds of people causing the problem, as the media reported. There were a few people who stoked the flames, with their supporters backing them up. It was not a long-lasting, out-of-control riot, as some would have you believe.

Second, it is my understanding that there were no weapons used during the altercation. As part of our tradition, men carry ceremonial daggers on various occasions much like other religions carry or wear symbols representing their faith. However, these daggers were not used for violence or intimidation. I understand that the violence consisted primarily of verbal taunts and some pushing and shoving. Weapons were not used.

Third, I would like to address misperceptions about the Sikh community. We are not radical Muslims or Arabs. In fact, we are not Muslims at all. Our religion grew in India and most of us were born there. We are as separate from Muslims as any other religion in this world.

Unfortunately, some people see all people who appear to be foreign, speak with an accent, and wear traditional clothing as one group ... and they often try to associate that group with terror. That is NOT us.

Sikhs are not radical. We are not promoting violence against anyone.

Instead, we’ve worked hard to become peaceful and contributing residents of Indianapolis, the entire state of Indiana, and this great country. We contribute through business opportunities, hard work, and service to our fellow men and women.

We’ve spent years becoming a noble part of this community – and we are sad that one unfortunate event could hurt our relationship with our fellow Hoosiers.

On behalf of the Sikh community, I extend our sincerest apologies for the problems that occurred – and I reassure you that we are committed to positive, peaceful and productive lives now and into the future.

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