The Fairfax Station Sikh community is reeling after hearing news of a shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin on Sunday that killed seven people.
“We were all at the temple when we first found out. It is tragic,” Surjeet Sidhu, who is on the board of directors for the .“Everyone was in shock. We could not believe anybody would go into a place of worship and do that kind of thing.”
The Sunday morning shooting at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wis., is being treated as an act of domestic terrorism, Oak Creek Patch reports. Authorities believe that the gunman acted alone, and they are investigating the gunman’s motive for the Wisconsin shooting at this time. The FBI is investigating.
The Sikh Foundation of Virginia is located in Fairfax Station and has about 400 members, Sidhu said. In the next few days, the community is planning to hold a vigil or another event in memory of the victims of the Wisconsin shooting.
Sidhu said that the community has not experienced discrimination toward their congregation from other Northern Virginia residents.
“We have gotten messages from other churches, and they have expressed their sympathy. We have never felt that [discrimination] in this area,” Sidhu said.
The news rattled relatives in India, who have been calling family members in Virginia out of concern.
“CNN is broadcasting this all over,” Sidhu said. “But as far as I know no one in our congregation has family in Wisconsin.”
According to the Sikh Coalition, a U.S. based civil rights group, Sikhism has more than 25 million followers worldwide and it is the fifth largest religion in the world, with over 500,000 followers in the United States. For more information on Sikhism please, visit www.sikhcoalition.org/resources/about-sikhs/at-a-glance.
Fairfax Station Patch will post information on the vigil when it becomes available.