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10 years after taking pictures, Wisconsin Sikhs lead interfaith dialog on security 

(Interfaith America) — On the eve of the 10-year anniversary of the deadly mass taking pictures on the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, greater than 100 interfaith leaders, policymakers, White Home officers, regulation enforcement officers and educators convened Thursday night time (Aug. 4) at metropolis corridor in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, for an interfaith panel dialogue on defending locations of worship from hate crimes. 

The panel was part of the Healing from Hate & Protecting Places of Worship Forum, a memorial of the tragedy on the gurdwara (as Sikhs name their homes of worship) organized by the Interfaith Convention of Better Milwaukee in partnership with the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, Sikh Coalition and Sikh American Authorized Protection and Schooling Fund.

The discussion board was part of a collection of occasions these teams are internet hosting this week to honor the victims of the taking pictures: Sita Singh, 41; Ranjit Singh, 49; Prakash Singh, 39; Paramjit Kaur, 41; Suveg Singh Khattra, 84; Satwant Singh Kaleka, 65; and Baba Punjab Singh, 72.    

RELATED: Sikh Americans honor 10th anniversary of Oak Creek shooting

“Being right here is extremely shifting as a result of folks have turned their ache into function in a manner that none of us may have predicted,” Melissa Rogers, government director of the White Home Workplace of Religion-Based mostly and Neighborhood Partnerships, stated after the discussion board.  

Melissa Rogers, government director of the White Home Workplace of Religion-Based mostly and Neighborhood Partnerships, expresses gratitude to the Sikh neighborhood for inviting the federal workplace to be part of the 10-year-anniversary commemoration, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Picture by Silma Suba

The interfaith panel, moderated by former U.S. lawyer James Santelle, included Pardeep Kaleka, government director of the Interfaith Convention of Better Milwaukee; Walter Lanier, CEO of the African American Management Alliance of Milwaukee; Ahmed Quereshi, president of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee; and Ari Friedman, director of safety and neighborhood properties on the Milwaukee Jewish Federation. 

Within the decade because the Oak Creek taking pictures, hate crimes towards locations of worship have been on the rise. Between 2018 and February 2020, mass shootings brought on by non secular hate elevated by 17%.

As assaults have elevated, synagogues, church buildings, mosques, gurdwaras and different locations of worship have elevated surveillance and safety at their doorways.  

“We’ve developed an usher and greeters’ program the place volunteers, who aren’t safety folks, however an additional set of eyes and ears, are educated to work together with the folks as they arrive in, in a pleasant method,” Friedman stated. The volunteers, he stated, look out for nonverbal cues and different indicators to gauge if there may be any want for concern. 

Along with securing their gates, the religion leaders stated it’s essential to incorporate their congregations in conversations about security and safety.  

Lanier stated he makes use of biblical references to emphasise the significance of defending oneself from hurt. 

“There’s a New Testomony narrative the place Jesus raised Lazarus from the lifeless,” Lanier informed the gathering. “Some non secular leaders had been mad … and so they stated we’re going to maneuver off. We’re not going to place ourselves in the best way of hazard. However we’re going to make use of knowledge on this second, and pull ourselves again. It was actually essential to border up for the congregation that that is biblical, that is throughout the wheelhouse of our religion.”

Not each place of worship can afford to rent safety, and, the Milwaukee Islamic Heart’s Quereshi famous, in some circumstances it’s even unlawful to take action. Quereshi added that many religion leaders face the problem of balancing a elementary perception that locations of worship ought to welcome everybody with an pressing want to guard themselves and their neighborhood. 

Lanier stated it’s essential for folks to look out for not simply their very own however different communities as nicely. “It’s like being in a neighborhood. It could’t be that I’m simply going to look out for my home and never fear about what’s occurring at your home … let’s get collectively like this night in order that we will share assets, data, finest practices, collaborate and have a story and have a important mass of people who find themselves on the identical web page and sharing comparable messages.”

Kaleka, whose father was one of many seven victims at Oak Creek a decade in the past, stated one of many classes the Sikh neighborhood realized that day was how everybody can maintain shifting ahead with compassion whereas additionally studying to fortify their partitions.  

“In all communities who’re focused, now we have been blessed to be surrounded by love, by compassion, by kindness,” Kaleka informed the viewers. “We may have left no matter occurred as no matter occurred, however you all made the acutely aware alternative of being right here due to seven individuals who died, however you wouldn’t let hope die. And we’re right here 10 years later, merely due to that.” 

 A model of this text initially appeared on Interfaith America magazine.

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